From ancient times, mountains have been worshiped in Japan. Mt. Fuji is archetypal, and the stone huts that served its pilgrims can be regarded as the original form of current mountain huts. Nowadays, since Mt. Fuji is a World Cultural Heritage site, its huts are required to be historically based. Although some historical materials describe the stone huts that existed from the Edo to the beginning of the Showa era, the changes stone huts underwent during the era of tourism after the establishment of Fuji Hakone National Park remain unclear. To investigate these changes, we examined historical materials, held interviews, and conducted field surveys on the Yoshida trail, from where great numbers of pilgrims who belonged to Fuji-ko societies made worship-ascent.
In Showa 6, the National Park Act was established to preserve the natural landscape, promote the welfare of the people, and attract foreign tourists. In Taisho 12, Mt. Fuji became a candidate for inclusion into the park. Yamanashi Prefecture and local people embarked on campaigns to establish the park and increase tourism. In Showa 11, Fuji Hakone National Park was established. During the Pacific War, national parks were used as training grounds. An increase in the number of climbers training and ascending Mt. Fuji to pray for victory was observed. Under these conditions, the stone huts that seemed to have kept their original form since the Edo era underwent gradual changes. Traditionally, huts had a wooden frame structure and were covered with wooden boards. Stones were piled on the roof and around the walls, which had one or two sweep-out windows. From the prewar to the postwar period, almost all stone huts changed their fa?ade by incorporating waist-high windows. Furthermore, some of the piled-up stones were removed on about half of the huts, and exposed wooden boards were either covered or replaced with galvanized iron.
About 3 years after the war, tourism in Yamanashi Prefecture returned to prewar levels. In Showa 27 and 39, a mountain bus line and the Fuji Subaru Line (a motorway) serviced the fifth station, dramatically changing the approach to climbing Mt. Fuji on the Yoshida trail. The wooden huts and sections of the trail below the fifth station fell into disrepair, while more than half of the stone huts above the fifth station were either newly constructed or renovated. The traditional floor plan of the stone huts had a main room (hiroma), which had wooden floors and a fireplace. The newer huts had larger dimensions and eave heights compared with huts at the end of the Edo era. Three patterns of change were evident. First, new huts were built with a roof truss structure (yogoya). Second, the new huts were built beside traditional stone huts with Japanese-style roof structures (wagoya). Third, stone huts were renovated. Almost all of the stone huts introduced the roof truss structure to allow for an open floor plan, waist-high windows for an open fa?ade, double bunks to accommodate more climbers, and new facilities, such as water filtration systems and curtains to ensure the safety and privacy of climbers.
A questionnaire survey in Showa 30 showed that only 2% of climbers were on religious pilgrimages, indicating that the changes to the stone huts were in response to the growing tourism industry. In the Edo era, stone huts were a kind of symbol of Mt. Fuji religious pilgrimages; however, in the early Showa era of tourism, the owners of the stone huts removed the stones as they modernized their huts.