Blame Game #432: reports Mt. Fuji is covered in human poop, speculates due to increase in foreign tourists


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Hi Blog.  Continuing our occasional series on “The Blame Game” (I’ve written about this before in the Japan Times), where embarrassing and inconvenient domestic problems are blamed on foreigners, here’s a report by a Japanese media source that Japan’s venerable symbolic Mt. Fuji is covered in human hiker crap.

Fine.  I’ve hiked up many mountains, and I’m sure a hike up Fuji would challenge many an intestine.  But then the article headlines that it might be due to the increase in foreign tourists (particularly Chinese and Koreans), parroting internet speculation.  Not so fine.  It does add “balance” by saying that others have said that Japanese also do it.  But again, that’s not what the headline says, and you’d have to read further to get that.  The story should in fact be that people are bashing foreigners, not that NJ pooping on Fuji might be happening.

Click bait is one thing, but the media practice of picking on foreigners because they are too weak in Japan’s media to respond against group defamation (as I discuss in my doctoral dissertation; more on that later, sorry) is another.  Japan needs stronger anti-defamation leagues (we at have tried; remember McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr. James” campaign?) to nip this sort of thing in the bud.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


富士山は登山者の「うんこ」がたくさん 外国人観光客の増加が原因なのか, 2014/9/18 19:14, courtesy of MS





25 comments on “Blame Game #432: reports Mt. Fuji is covered in human poop, speculates due to increase in foreign tourists

  • while I have seen Chinese tourist do some pretty rude things, I must say that I suspect this poop is probably mostly done by Japanese. Ive been to many mountain camp areas near Oyama etc and seen the toliet paper and poop everywhere, done by Japanese. It was so bad in one place I had to move my camp to another location; pretty disgusting. I have witnessed many times Ojisan taking a squat out in the open in Japan. Ive seen toliet paper and crap on the street in towns in Japan. I think for some of the older generation, this behavior is acceptable, I dont know any other way of explaining it.

  • I live in front of a nice park, with swings and slides for the kids, and the ubiquitous cherry blossoms prevalent in such parks across Japan, to remind them they are Japanese!
    Every single day, some Todo in his small pick up, or a taxi driver or other, stops their car, gets out..walks to the corner by the big tress and urinates; sometimes just in the street gutter as too lazy to walk into the small park. This occurs several times each day without fail. Not a single tourist in this is a residential location!

    Reminds me of a classic saying:

    “The Japanese have an eye for beauty, but blind to ugliness”

    They see only “THEIR” beauty, Mt.Fuji or Cherry Blossoms….however, defecating/urinating….must be someone else’s because they don’t see it, being blind to such ugliness.

  • JDG

    It’s interesting how non-J media report the dengue fever outbreak. Very factual and non-sensational:

    The usual hot humid tropical conditions, as we have experienced in Japan this summer, endless rain, which is extremely rare. Ideal conditions for dengue. And the same for KL too:

    Blame the poop on anything other J’s…and blames the outbreak on anything other than J’s…an all too familiar theme to maintain the image and harmony.

  • irezumi_aniki says:

    The report isn’t necessarily about Mt. Fuji being covered in crap. Rather, it’s about the accusations of foreigner (Chinese/Korean) involvement that some people (presumably Japanese) are tweeting. It calls the accusations into question, sites some anonymous Japanese tweets as examples and anonymous Chinese tweets as counterexamples. A little background story here and there to fill in the gaps . . . and then . . .it finishes up with someone who’s in the know who says that it’s not a foreigner thing and it isn’t a recent occurrence that’s just started this year. “Bad people are bad people regardless of where they’re from” <- to paraphrase a little.

    Again though, the article calls the accusations into question and that’s reflected in the headline. The headline reads more along the lines of “Is an increase in foreigners really the cause (as is being claimed?)” rather than “an increase in foreigners is maybe/probably the cause”. I suppose it all comes down to how you want to read/translate the article, but the title is in sync with the report’s contents and is thus fairly appropriate. It’s slightly questionable to call it click bate. Also, I fail to see how this is an example of the media picking on foreigners when the report ends up coming to the defense of foreigners (particularly Chinese/Koreans).

    Drawing attention to articles that slander or misrepresent foreigners is a commendable thing to do, but finding fault with articles like this is counterproductive and distracts from real problems.

    — Not really. This is not a zero-sum kinda thing. You are welcome to think this is no big deal. But I doubt that finding fault with articles like these actually damages the cause.

  • Sheesh, I like how after a title like that they go on to interview some shop owners who basically say “Nah, it’s always been this way. Since most of the toilets charge a fee, it’s possible people just don’t wanna pay so they do their business outside.”
    I can see how that would be a much more probable cause than because the hikers are from China or Korea. Have you SEEN the amount of garbage, couches, bicycles, refridgerators etc. dumped in rivers and streams around the country? Are we to presume that NJ are to blame for all of this? Or could it be that some people are just jerks, and don’t want to pay for something they argue should be free?
    While I’m sure there are some genuine acts of unavoidable bowel release, but when there’s money involved, it’s guaranteed people will find a way not to pay.

    There are nature friendly outdoor toilets they could put up there, and if they’re dead set on trying to extort guests by holding their biological needs hostage, just charge for toilet paper. Sure, some people will bring their own but at least they won’t be pooping all over the mountain.

    But the undertone of the article is just ridiculous. “We’re victims!” Of whom? “We don’t really know! But, but, we’ve victims!”

  • Ditto what Mike said, I saw this article earlier and instantly thought it might show up on this site. It reeked of racist conjecture and I found it highly offensive to be honest.

  • Love the title. They think they are being clever by simply writing it in a question form.

    “Hey! I’m just asking a question man! Is your mother a whore?! What? What are you getting all worked up about? I’m just asking. Is she a whore?!”

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Irezumi_Aniki, #5

    FYI, J-cast is an online Japanese news media slanted to conservatives. They are famous for pulling off shameless anti-Chinese and Korean sentiment with such bait-and-switch tactics. It’s one of those C-rate media that lack journalistic integrity.

  • Interesting. How about running an article on how the Japanese could clear up some of their own bad habits. Here are some things they could cover;

    Coughing without covering ones mouth. This happens all the time. Often people wearing a mask also believe it unnecessary to use a hand when coughing or sneezing. My face covered in a fine mist of infected spittle shows the mask has little effect.

    Clearing of the throat by ‘hawking it up’. This disgusting habit makes me want to vomit especially when it’s followed by a big green “phlegm wad” ejected on to the street. If you’re really lucky the wad may even be spat on to the train floor or inside a shop.

    I used to have a shop in a building which was situated next to a club. The building entrance was always open and drunk Japanese coming out of the club would think it a good idea to urinate inside my shops building stairwell. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have to mop up a liter or so of piss from the entrance to my shop. It absolutely stank and it happened all the time. The other one was used condoms discarded outside my shop door. Lovely little surprise on a Sunday morning.

    Yea, taxi drivers seem to think they have a free pass to piss anywhere they like. I see that all the time too.

    The perpetrators of these “manner crimes” have been all age groups and both men and women. Although I have to say the pissing anywhere thing, and the spitting out of phlegm wads is usually older Japanese men. I’ve never climbed Mount Fuji but from what I’ve seen I’d say most of that poop belongs to Japanese folks.

  • Also, why is this even a race issue? Why isnt it just a story about how people are pooping on the mountain because they have to pay for toilets? Surely, thats the thing which makes this a story. I’m sure that it really has nothing to do with race. They’ll probably end up making signs in korean and Chinese that say ‘please dont poop on the mountain”. Great way not to resolve the issue.

  • Eight years ago, I went to Yoshino-yama for Ohanami (it’s famous for having thousands of cherry blossom).
    Anyway, it’s a tiny little place, but packed at that time of year with visitors. I watched groups of Japanese tourists of all ages tie their empty beer cans and plastic combini bento boxes in carrier bags, and then toss them down the mountainside. I walked to Nyorin-ji and the graves outside were littered with bags of rubbish too. It was disgusting.
    I have visited the same places in winter when there are no Japanese tourists, and no rubbish.

    Maybe it’s been mentioned, but it wasn’t Chinese, Korean, or any other NJ visitors who filled the forest around Mt. Fuji with everything from unwanted cars and bikes, to lockers and panes of glass, and industrial waste in barrels from the 60’s onwards.

  • irezumi_aniki says:

    @Loverilakkuma, #10

    Yeah, I’m familiar with J-Cast. However conservative leaning it may be though, the report doesn’t read the way it’s being portrayed. At least in my opinion, for whatever it’s worth. But yeah, I could agree more with your assessment of the organization.


    I don’t know. I’m hardly an activist and the good lord knows I’m no academic. I’m just a manager and looking at it from a manager’s perspective, taking a non-issue that ends up supporting foreigners (intentionally or unintentionally is beyond the point) and turning it into an issue by saying it puts/tries to place the blame on foreigners does hurt the cause. It’s essentially crying wolf and kills all credibility. People who are in a position to make sure things like this don’t happen (slanderous articles, inappropriate advertisements, etc.) aren’t going to pay attention. It’s like:

    “Well if they’re going to complain about something silly like that and misinterpret what’s actually being presented, then they’re going to complain about anything and everything we do, so fuck ‘em. There’s no point in trying to appease them or listen to their opinions.”

    Then there are the potential problems with trying to influence public opinion for the better. It’s hard to try and persuade your average Joe that there are offensive articles, ads, etc., that need to be taken care of when you (general you, not you you) focus on non-issues. It’s a PR game. Perhaps that’s a twisted way of looking at things, but at least in my world, that’s the reality of it.

    — Okay. Thanks for making your case clearly and kindly. Agree to disagree.

  • Reminds me of several occasion when I saw Japanese men urinating on the sidewalk. Not only old, crazy Oyaji but men in their 30 or 40s. Once I saw a guy stop his car on the street, walk to a tree, and do his business against it. That was in Daikanyama, in a neighborhood area the Japanese think of as “chic”.
    When I told my Japanese co-workers about what I saw, they all, without fail, immediately said, “Oh, they were Chinese.” Not “probably Chinese”, no, they were sure about it.

  • On the surface, the article appears to be fair and not blame foreigners. But notice how , even after admitting the problem has always been there , they make sure to say that bad people come from everywhere. Note that Japan is not on the list of places bad people come from. The article refuses to just admit the truth that Japanese people probably did all this , and the ´bad manners´ are Japanese. A quite typical tu quoque. Gotta point out how awful European manners are before we can admit any fault in Japanese manners. This article is childish and transparent in its intent.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I was doing a but of research on J-cast news. It was founded by Masao Ninagawa(蜷川 真夫:にながわ まさお), a former editor of Asahi Magazine[AERA] in 1997. They became one of the fast-growing online news media that invite more than 11 million readers as of today.

    I may or may not correct their position as “conservatives” for founder’s strong background on Asahi Shinbun group. But they are far from “independent” media for apparent partisanships and yellow journalism (e.g., picking up unidentified sources, rumors, low-brow online board like 2channel).

    The current editor of J-cast news is Chiaki Omori (大森千明), who is also an ex- Asahi Shinbun manager and editor. This man has a history of funding scandal in the past. He got suspended for breach of contract with Takafuji over payment and corporate sponsorship on news advertisement.

    — FWIW, I consider the Asahi to be a mixed bag when it comes to political bent — it really depends on the editor how “liberal” or “conservative” the articles become. In any case, I disagree with the claim that it’s “Japan’s New York Times“.

  • I think we should be careful to not simply adapt the very common Japanese mislabeling of racist, supremacist, and xenophobic behaviour and opinions as merely “conservative” or “traditional”. If we do follow the logic, it would be an admittance of Japanese tradition as being just that – racist, supremacist, and xenophobic, and at the same time would render both terms useless in describing Japanese traditions.

  • Even if the article ultimately dismisses the suspicion that foreigners are the cause, it’s guilty of the blame game for even entertaining those suspicions in the first place. To present those opinions (found mostly in select pockets of the anonymous web that are already known for their extreme views, right?) as anything more than lunatic fringe white noise gives them such an inappropriately high level of legitimacy that it can only be a deliberate attempt to legitimize those views.

    You can find fringe reactions to just about any event online, but there’s a reason news sources don’t bother publishing headlines like “Mt. Ontake Explodes without Warning in Deadly Eruption…This can’t be the Illuminati at Work, can it?!” just because some yahoos speculate online. This Fuji headline should be roughly equivalent to that, except that in this case, the publisher obviously feels these particular fringe theories (veracity aside) aren’t so lunatic after all. Unfortunately, I imagine their readership in many cases agree.

  • @ Will #22

    I agree with your comment with the exception that in Japan, those ‘lunatic views’ are not a minority hidden on the internet.
    As has shown, the lunatic far right include most cabinet ministers, former heads of the SDF, the mayors of Japan’s three biggest cities, and the directors of the national broadcaster.

    On that basis, it’s difficult to come to any other opinion than that the majority of Japanese support such views, or indeed hold such views themselves, and that ‘lunatic views’ are mainstream Japanese beliefs.

  • @Jim (#23) I agree with your assessment. Ishihara was reelected how many times as mayor of Tokyo (which has quite the significance with Tokyo being the cultural, political, and economic center of modern Japan) – I think it was four or five times.
    Even accounting political apathy and lower numbers at the polls, it is safe to say that far-right ideas such as cultural and even genetic supremacy are mainstream. Of course not everybody who has this ideas is foaming at the mouth and using speaker vans to embarrass themselves, but many of us have witnessed seemingly well-adjusted Japanese turning aggressive and childishly defensive once pressed for an opinion on, for example, Japan’s role in WWII.
    It helps to understand who the current Japanese school system was implemented by, and how it was done. I would characterize the current Japanese school system as propagandistic, and exhibiting signs of “brainwashing” going on, and the Japanese media landscape is in sync with that.
    Therefore, the majority of Japanese who have no chance to see their own country without the ultra-nationalistic filter can’t really be blamed for the views that have been indoctrinated upon them.

    I think what is interesting besides the fact that there are attempts to blame foreigners is that you won’t see an article debating the question “why are we Japanese pooping on our most important national symbol”. I guess it would mean that the self-image of the Japanese as an odorless, almost sterile “race” would take a hit.

  • Other countries have reactionaries with lunatic views. As long as they are there, Japan can point to them and say “Hey they do it too so it cant be wrong.”

    The Js usually front themselves as superior to others, but are happy to be seen as equals when justifying their own bad attitudes.


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