OYAMA, Shizuoka Prefecture--Hikers have been getting lost on their way up Mount Fuji due to misleading arrows daubed on rocks by unknown culprits, the local government here has announced.

The painted arrows, directing climbers toward an unorthodox route up Japan’s highest peak, were found near the 7th Station of the Subashiri-guchi trail in the town of Oyama, which is on the Shizuoka Prefecture side of the mountain.

The route the arrows pointed to is unstable and hazardous, and has the potential for climbers to slip and fall down the mountain. The prefectural police’s Gotenba station has investigated the matter on suspicion of violation of the Cultural Assets Preservation Law and other crimes.

The arrows were discovered on June 20, according to an Oyama town official. The 59-year-old male owner of a mountain lodge, Miharashikan, raised the alarm after he found an arrow drawn in white paint on his premises.

When tracing the direction which the arrow pointed to, arrows and circles were found in 42 places on rocks and other surfaces over a distance of about 300 meters, the official said.

Because some climbers were misled by the arrows and got lost as a result, staff at the lodge set up ropes to prevent them from following the wrong route.

According to the prefectural department in charge of the 3,776-meter Mount Fuji, graffiti is prohibited there because it is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

The Environment Ministry also confirmed the incident. Authorities including the ministry and prefectural government were scheduled to discuss how to deal with the matter on July 25.