Mount Fuji: Where Climbers Connect to the World with Free Wi-Fi
Symbolic of Japan, Mount Fuji’s natural wonder has made it a muse for many, attracting visitors and climbers from near and afar, but now, thanks to a manmade technological marvel, it has more to offer admirers than ever before.
Situated on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, Japan’s highest mountain, also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, has featured free Wi-Fi service since 2014. The two prefectures recently partnered to launch Wi-Fi on the mountain, enabling climbers to make use of Japanese telecom company DOCOMO’s network.
The aim of the joint initiative is to attract more international visitors to the mountain, which is one of Japan’s most popular destinations during the summer climbing season, as well as promote the other natural treasures and tourist attractions that lie in both prefectures. (According to Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, more than 285,000 people climbed Mount Fuji during the 2014 summer climbing season.)
Climb it, heart it, share it
“The aim for us is to give the opportunity to anyone climbing Mount Fuji to share their experience with the world as they are still on the mountain,” says Armina Dante, Coordinator for International Relations, International Affairs Division, Tourism Department, Yamanashi Prefectural Government.
“We hope that by seeing their friends and family members climbing Mount Fuji, more tourists will come to enjoy the beauties of our Prefecture. We also wish for people to take the time to discover other touristic spots in Yamanashi via the internet. Yamanashi is the land of Mount Fuji, but it also has a lot more to offer.”
“Having free Wi-Fi on Mount Fuji will encourage tourism by providing a service that might normally be difficult to obtain in a remote location,” adds Hideaki Nakazawa, Executive Director of the Japan National Tourism Organization’s office in Toronto, Canada. “Climbers will be able to stay connected, which will enhance their experience.”
Climbers can access the network from eight hotspots, including several trailheads in Yamanashi and Shizuoka that can be reached by vehicles, as well as Fuji’s 3,777-metre summit. Wi-Fi connectivity lasts for 72 hours from initial logon, and the service periods will differ by location: July 10 to September 10 at three major trailheads in Shizuoka, July 10 to September 14 at the Yoshida trailhead at the fifth station in Yamanashi, and July 10 to September 10 at the summit.
Of course, launching Wi-Fi on the mountain is as much about climber safety as it is about promoting tourism through shared experiences. Reaching Fuji’s peak, after all, isn’t without some potential peril. Climbing can be a tricky endeavour even on the tamest of mountains, and Mount Fuji also has something of a wild side; it happens to be an active stratovolcano (a tall, conical volcano composed of one layer of hardened lava, tephra, and volcanic ash characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions) that sits on a “triple junction” of tectonic activity, and researchers say it could be primed for an eruption due to a buildup of pressure from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan’s eastern coast in 2011. Fuji last erupted on December 16, 1707.
With that in mind, multilingual fliers containing information not only on how to access the service, but also links leading to: maps, information and videos on how to ascend and descend the mountain safely; suggested equipment; regulations and codes of conduct; weather reports; and important information about what to do in the event of volcanic activity, including an evacuation plan, are also distributed to mountain trekkers by both prefectures at various trailheads and mountain sites.
Imagery captured by UrtheCast’s Theia camera aboard the International Space Station. You can view more imagery of Mount Fuji on the UrtheCast gallery.
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer who’s into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.