Japan, the country that is full of weird and bizarre mysteries. Tragic deaths, blood-curdling hauntings and unexplained trends of suicide are the most common scenes in its backyard. In these contexts, the name of a certain place that comes to mind is the “Aokigahara Forest,” or infamously known as the “Suicide Forest.”
The Aokigahara Forest:
At the base of Mount Fuji is a dense, green forest, a vast land boasting thousands of trees that swing in the wind. It seems as if there is an ominous message erupting all the time in the atmosphere. From above, the vast land of greenery looks like a vivid sea, giving the Aokigahara forest a second name—“Jukai,” which literally means the “Sea of Trees” in Japanese.
The ground below is uneven and riddled with small caves, moss-covered roots growing on top of the dried lava that once flowed there. The soil has a high iron content which interferes with GPS and cell phone signals.
To say, this is the place where you can very easily get lost. Whoever had met this misfortune, in most cases, did not come back alive. Therefore, visitors are strongly advised to stay on the trails.
Here’s Why It’s Notorious As “The Suicide Forest?”
A lot of people come to the Aokigahara Forest to feel its verdant beauty and seeking the mystery that the forest hides in it. But there are some people, who enter the forest with the intention of getting lost themselves in its lap to never come out. Signs at the forest entrances remind visitors that their lives are precious, to think of their families. At the bottom of the signs is the number for a suicide hotline. That’s how this forest has infamously earned its name, “The Suicide Forest.”
Each year dozens of corpses are found by volunteers who clean the woods, but many are forever lost in the very thick woods. The most common means of suicide are hanging, drug overdose and stabbing. After a high number of suicides were reported in 2004 (a total of 108), the Japanese authorities discontinued publicizing deaths for fear of glorifying the practice.
Yamanashi prefecture, where the Aokigahara Forest is originally located, began hiring people in 2009 to patrol the forest and approach anyone who might not look like the average tourist out on a hike.
Japan’s suicide rates are the highest among the developed countries. In 2015, the suicide rate was at the peak of its graph line. But since preventative measures were introduced, the figures have now slightly dropped, however, the country still witnesses a lot of suicidal deaths.
History says, Japanese people choose certain spots to commit this evil act, making it a bizarre trend among others. And “The Aokigahara Forest” is significantly one of them which has gained notoriety as a popular suicide spot.
With the help of guides, if you ever venture into areas of the forest where suicides most often occur, you can see a number of following lines of plastic tape tied to trees by rescue workers to mark where they have found something, or as an escape route for people who have not fully made up their minds to go through It.
The Creepy Legends Behind The Aokigahara Suicide Forest:
Every strange phenomenon has its own story in the shapes of local folklores and Gothic legends. Aokigahara has too. Legend has it that Aokigahara Forest was a place where people once practiced a bizarre yet sad part of their culture called “Ubasute” — in which people used to take an elderly or sick relative to a remote area and leaving them to die of dehydration and starvation.
On the other side, the Aokigahara is considered to be haunted by demons in Japanese mythology. In the Japanese belief, if a person dies in a deep sense of hatred, anger, sadness, or desire for revenge, their soul can’t leave this world and continues to wander, appearing to people affected by the spell or those who unknowingly cross their path. These souls are called “Yurei” in Japanese culture. It is said that “Yurei” wants nothing in particular, but they just want to rest in peace by having their curse removed.
But not only that, it is also believed, at night, some evil spirits attract people to their own world by imitating a woman’s voice and grasping at the limbs of those who investigate.
Many Japanese spiritualists assert the old trees in the Aokigahara Forest soaked malevolent energies in them accumulated over the centuries which lure people to their deaths.
According to famous Polish photographer Tomasz Lazar, who was fascinating with the Aokigahara Forest from his middle school days, “the forest became a way to explore the consequences of depression in a country like Japan, which culturally neither shares the openness of discussing mental health issues nor the same stigma around suicide as exists in the West.”
In the end, though the Aokigahara Forest holds unbearable pains of countless deaths and miseries, the forest is truly an unmistakable beauty to must visit in Japan. In one sentence, the entire valley is just magnificent!
Here’s How To Reach The Aokigahara Forest:
If you’re interested in hiking in the Aokigahara forest, it’s located approximately two hours’ driving time west-southwest from Tokyo. Since the place is not accessible through the cars, you must take the Fujikyu Railway to Kawaguchiko train station then the Retro Bus. The entrance is in the parking lot of the Lake Sai Bat Cave.