Mt. Fuji fully opens for climbing season

Trails on Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak, are now fully open for climbers this year.

The Fujinomiya, Gotemba and Subashiri trails on the Shizuoka Prefecture side opened on Wednesday, following the opening of another route in neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture last week. The mountain straddles the two prefectures.

Trekkers began climbing the mountain after the Fujinomiya trail opened at 9 a.m. Shizuoka prefectural officials said the peak was forecast to be covered in clouds and windy.

A Shinto ceremony was also held Wednesday morning at Fujisanhongu Sengentaisha Shrine in Fujinomiya City. A Shinto priest purified a bus carrying trekkers and prayed for their safety.

Fujinomiya Mayor Sudo Hidetada declared the climbing trails open before a crowd of about 300 people.

A man from the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido said his family will stay overnight in a hut at the ninth station. He added that they're looking forward to watching the sunrise near the peak.

People clad in white paraded with a giant walking stick 3.776 meters long -- one thousandth the mountain's height -- before placing it in front of the outer shrine.

Mountain rescuers, consisting of police and firefighting personnel and others, also marked the start of their seasonal mission.

Shizuoka Prefecture introduced new measures for its three routes in a bid to enhance safety and address problematic behavior by some climbers.

Trekkers are now requested to register online in advance, listing their itinerary and whether they plan to stay overnight at huts. They also need to watch videos detailing climbing rules and etiquette before beginning their ascents.

Noting that the mountain huts are almost fully booked for the season, city officials say they're concerned more trekkers may recklessly try to climb through the night without taking enough breaks.