Image of Mount Fuji taken by NASA

Image of Mount Fuji taken by NASA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A record 79,057 people hiked up Mount Fuji in the first three weeks of July, the Environment Ministry said Thursday, crediting the mountain’s UNESCO World Heritage status, bestowed in June, for the increased turnout.

The number of climbers, an increase of 35 percent from the same period last year, also appears to have been bolstered by an early end to the rainy season and an early thaw on the trails, officials said.

Infrared counters set up near the eighth stations on the four routes up the mountain were used to collect the data between July 1 and 21.

The most popular route, the Yoshida trail, was taken by 60 percent of the climbers, while the Fujinomiya had 21 percent, the Subashiri 13 percent and the Gotemba 6 percent.

For the whole climbing season through August, the total this year is expected to exceed the record of around 320,000 in 2010. Visitor numbers have been officially kept since 2005.

The ministry warns those planning to hike up the mountain to be prepared for sudden weather changes, citing an increase in underequipped climbers.

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