Instagrammers blocked the roads. So Japan blocked the view

An iconic gas station in Japan is embroiled in an intriguing controversy: It’s just too darn scenic. It’s a simple Lawson, akin to a 7-Eleven. But at the right angle, Mount Fuji seems to rise right out of its roof. Pair the serenity of the blue-hued volcano with the simplicity of Lawson’s blue branding, and it’s a perfect travel photo.

Or it was, anyway.

Just this week, officials in Fuji Kawaguchiko made good on their threat to hide the iconic Lawson Fuji view behind an ugly, selfie-proof mesh fence. There were too many tourists causing traffic hazards to get the shot from the middle of the street. On top of that, they were messy, leaving garbage and cigarette butts in their wake, BBC reported. And perhaps that’s an even worse offense in a place where the default is for city life is to be tidy and organized. 

In any case, “Mount Fuji Lawson,” as it’s been called, is over, or it’s trying to be. “If the screen is meant to keep them [tourists] away, it isn’t doing that—yet,” BBC reported after going to see the fence rather than the view. What their reporter found was a tense scene with tourists trying even harder to get the shot they’re now explicitly not meant to take.

“I think one person posted a cool picture of themselves in front of this Lawson and it went viral and everybody decided ‘I want to go there. I want that picture on my Instagram,’” Maddison Verb, who had traveled there from the United States, told BBC.

“There’s a guy working here just to prevent people from crossing the road. It is insane,” said Coralie Nieke, who had been visiting from Germany, told BBC, before admitting that she wouldn’t have gone at all if it weren’t for social media: “I wouldn’t even have known that this place existed.” 

The bad behavior seems to be a side effect of booming tourism in Japan, which only reopened to international visitors in October 2022. There were more than 3 million international visitors in both March and April this year, which broke previous records, according to Japan Times.


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