Japan is covering Mount Fuji with free Wi-Fi

Image: AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye
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Hardcore mountaineers might abhor the idea, but many foreign visitors to Japan have been asking for it: free Wi-Fi on Mt. Fuji. Now, climbers with selfie sticks and social media accounts can show off what a great time they’re having on the iconic mountain as it happens—and in so doing promote Japan as a tourist destination.

Japan aims to boost its annual visitor numbers to 20 million (still modest by international standards) before Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics. As part of that effort, it wants to make itself more tourist-friendly. For instance, the government is pressuring banks to make more of their ATMs compatible with foreign cards, long on the wish list of visitors and expats.

In May the nation’s “travel balance”—the amount that foreign visitors spend in Japan less what Japanese spend overseas—turned positive for the first time 55 years.

Connecting to Mount Fuji’s eight Wi-Fi hotspots, including in three cottages and on its 3,776-meter (12,389-foot) summit, requires a user name and password that is available in fliers provided in foreign languages. After logging in, users get 72 hours of the wireless service, provided by NTT DoCoMo.

“We hope people will use the service not only to tell about the attractions of Mount Fuji to people abroad but also to obtain weather and other information to ensure their safety,” a tourism official told the Asahi Shimbun.

The mountain receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.