Ceremony held on Mt. Fuji to pray for safety of climbers

A ceremony was held at the foot of Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak, on Monday to pray for the safety of climbers before its trails open in July.

About 30 people, including officials from mountain lodges, the local government and police, attended the event on Monday in Yamanashi Prefecture's Fujiyoshida City. It took place in front of a cenotaph near the Yoshida route leading to the peak that is dedicated to climbers who died on the mountain.

A priest from a local shrine began the ceremony by carrying out a ritual. Participants then prayed for the safety of climbers and the souls of the victims.

Organizers say that from 1956 until last month 325 climbers died on Mount Fuji's Yamanashi side from causes that included slipping off trails.

The Yamanashi side's Yoshida route will open from July 1 through September 10.

Local officials expect the number of climbers to rise this season as this year marks 10 years since Mount Fuji's registration on UNESCO's World Heritage list. The lifting of restrictions on people's movements that were imposed due to COVID-19 is also expected to push up the number.

The officials are concerned that the number of accidents may increase as well.

Nakamura Osamu, the head of an association of local accommodation facility operators, said the participants prayed for a season without accidents. He also said the operators will make preparations to safely accept climbers.