British diplomat and Japanologist Ernest Satow (1843-1929) climbed Mount Fuji in the summer during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and was completely taken with the view from the summit.

Satow extolled it as "the height of majesty" and "spectacular beyond words" in his guidebook, where he explained Fuji's ascent and descent routes and its flora to European and American readers.

A compilation of his notes, translated into Japanese under the title of "Aanesuto Satow no Meiji Nihon Sangakuki" (literally, Ernest Satow's stories of Japanese mountains in the Meiji Era), contains lessons for alpinists that are just as valuable today as they were nearly 150 years ago.

He discourages climbers from "racing against time." The equivalent behavior today would be "bullet climbing," which means recklessly climbing a mountain overnight without getting enough rest the previous day.

Satow also insists on bundling up in warm clothing, warning people of the danger of dressing inappropriately light.

There is also information that made me stop and think. According to Satow, a night's accommodation with a meal at a lodge on the summit of Mount Fuji cost 30 "sen" for Japanese, and 50 "sen" for foreigners.

No explanations are given for the difference, but I presume the lodge practiced dual pricing, and the price differential was probably even modest in view of the substantial economic gap between Japan and the West back then.

Now, what about this practice of dual pricing? The city of Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site Himeji Castle, is considering setting a higher visitors' fee for foreign tourists than for their Japanese counterparts.

The prices have yet to be decided, but the mayor of Himeji has mentioned "30 dollars per person for foreigners and 5 dollars per Japanese citizen."

The current price is 1,000 yen ($6.18) for anyone aged 18 and older. If it becomes 30 dollars, that's more than four times at the current dollar-yen exchange rate.

The city claims the extra revenue will fund preservation and repair work on the castle.

The record-weak yen is attracting a massive influx of visitors from abroad, but I am becoming alarmed now by the extent to which dual pricing has become common at eating and drinking establishments.

Come to think of it, how do proprietors tell resident Japanese from foreign visitors? By the language they speak and how they look? But those things could be misleading.

Have we entered an era of collecting extra money from foreign visitors? The thought saddens me, but perhaps I am only feeling sentimental about Japan's economic decline.

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 10

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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VOX POPULI: Dual pricing for foreigners an alarming trend that is spreading

22 8
10.07.2024

British diplomat and Japanologist Ernest Satow (1843-1929) climbed Mount Fuji in the summer during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and was completely taken with the view from the summit.

Satow extolled it as "the height of majesty" and "spectacular beyond words" in his guidebook, where he explained Fuji's ascent and descent routes and its flora to European and American readers.

A compilation of his notes, translated into Japanese under the title of "Aanesuto Satow no Meiji Nihon Sangakuki" (literally, Ernest Satow's stories of Japanese mountains in the Meiji Era), contains lessons for alpinists that are just as valuable today as they were nearly 150 years ago.

He discourages climbers from "racing against time." The equivalent........

© The Asahi Shimbun


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