In June 2013, Mount Fuji was designated a World Heritage site. Originally, the goal was to be registered as a Natural Heritage site, and it took about 20 years before the mountain was registered as a Cultural Heritage site. All the efforts of the organizations and people involved in the registration were finally rewarded. The reason Mount Fuji was not registered as a Natural Heritage site is that there was a problem of environmental preservation from the dumping of urine and waste. Back then, human excrement was disposed of directly on the ground, and garbage was left at the foot of Mount Fuji. Currently, huts provide well-developed restrooms and the awareness of climbers has improved. There is no garbage at the foot of the mountain. Mount Fuji is now beautiful from every angle.
Along with the increase in the number of climbers, the problem of over-capacity has been pointed out as well. From FY 2014, Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures collect a Mount Fuji environmental preservation charge, which is used to protect the environment of the mountain and improve the climbing trails. In order to pass down the beautiful mountain to future generations, we need to cooperate as much as we can.
What are the values of Mount Fuji as Cultural Heritage? Let’s take a look at the history and culture of Mount Fuji as well, which we have not especially been conscious about.
According to the document published by the Forest Agency, three criteria are cited as the "universal values of Mount Fuji": (1) an object of worship, (2) landscape as a noted mountain and (3) a source of art. Twenty-five component sites include for worship, trails, shrines, and Oshi’s＊ houses; for nature and landscape, lakes, and the springs in Oshino; and for art, Miho-no-Matsubara (Pine Forest of Miho) which is internationally widely known.
Former house of the Togawa’s family, one of the Oshi's* houses Precious residence built in 1768 and still existing. Open to the public. (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed on Tuesdays)
Apparently, the values of Mount Fuji ingrained in our aesthetic sense and worship are something universal from ancient times. The sensitivity that you feel "beautiful" when looking at Mount Fuji seems to be a purity unique to Japanese. It’s important to hand down the unchanged values of Mount Fuji to the next generations as well.
∗ Oshi was a leader of the Mt. Fuji faith, who took care of and guided believers and offered accommodations for them.