Mt. Fuji Climbers have a new voluntary 1,000-yen fee

A 10-day trial scheme to collect a 1,000-yen entrance fee from those climbing Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, was introduced on Thursday.

The entrance fee is charged on four routes leading to the summit of the 3,776-meter mountain, which straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. Payment is voluntary.

Over the 10-day period, officials from the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectural governments will be stationed on the four routes between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to collect the fee. The four are the Fujinomiyaguchi, Subashiriguchi and Gotenbaguchi routes that start in Shizuoka and the Yoshidaguchi route starting in Yamanashi.

Those who pay the fee will receive a certificate and a badge. The money will go toward protecting the mountain, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in June, and for safety measures such as repairs of the routes.

Climbers will be asked whether they approve of the entrance fee and whether they think 1,000 yen is appropriate. By considering the opinions of climbers, the two prefectures are aiming to officially launch the scheme in summer 2014.

Tomioka Silk Mill Recommended as World Heritage Site

A special committee of Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs agreed Thursday to recommend the Tomioka Silk Mill and related industrial heritage should be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Japanese government will decide on the step at a meeting of relevant government agencies and submit a provisional recommendation paper to the U.N. organization in September, aiming for the inscription in 2014, officials said.

To be recommended are four properties including the silk mill, which was built in 1872 as a state-run plant. The silk mill in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, continued its operations until 1987 even after it was sold to the private sector in 1893.

The mill and three other facilities are preserved in excellent condition.

The committee recognized the facilities’ universal value because they contributed to mass production of high-quality raw silk with advanced technology and played a significant role in the development of the world’s silk industry.

Yakushiji’s World Heritage Pagoda open for first time in 1,300 years

The three-layer east pagoda of Yakushiji, a Buddhist temple listed as a World Heritage site in Japan’s ancient capital of Nara, was opened to the public Tuesday for the first time since it was built some 1,300 years ago.

The national treasure pagoda in western Japan, often described as "frozen music" for its rhythmical appearance and beauty, will be open to general visitors through March 21 ahead of its major renovation around this summer.

The East Tower (東塔 Tō-tō?) is the only original 8th-century structure at Yakushi-ji. It is regarded as one of the finest pagodas in Japan, representing Hakuhō to Tenpyō period architecture.

During the renovation, which is expected to take eight years, visitors will not even be able to view the exterior of the tower.

A walkway and lighting was installed inside the first floor of the tower for the public viewing.

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