Aokigahara


Aokigahara forest


AOKIGAHARA is a forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan.  It is a 35sq.km forest and it contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations.  AOKIGAHARA is also known as JUKAI (Sea of Trees) or SUICIDE FOREST.

The forest has an historic association with demons in Japanese mythology and is a popular place for “suicides” (57 in 2010), despite the signs posted in Japanese and English at the head of the main trail.  One of them, at the entrance reads: ” Your life is something precious, that was given to you by your parents.”, while another one states :”Meditate on your parents, siblings and your children once more.  Do not be troubled alone.”

aokigahara-forest-108


The forest floor consists primarily of volcanic rock and is difficult to penetrate with hand tools such as picks and shovels.  The forest, itself, is very dense and one can get lost easily if leaving the official trails.  Because of this, hikers and tourists trekking through AOKIGAHARA, in recent years, have begun to use plastic tapes to mark their paths, so as to avoid getting lost.
Past the designated trails leading to tourist attractions such as the NARUSAWA ICE CAVE, which is concentric-vertical and 201m long and FUGAKU WIND CAVE (also called LAVA CAVE) which is horizontal and 153m long.  These caves are designated as Japan’s natural monuments and even during mid-summers, visitors can see blocks of ice in them.

Aokigahara creepy


The forest is a popular place for “suicides”, reportedly the most popular in Japan.  Statistics vary, but what is documented is that during the period leading up to 1988, about 100 suicides occurred there every year.  In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002.  In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay AOKIGAHARA’S association with suicides.  In 2014, 108 people killed themselves in the forest.  In 2010, it is estimated that more than 200 people had attempted suicide, 54 of whom completed the act..  Suicides are said to increase in March —– that is the end of the ‘fiscal year’ in Japan.


Aokigahara forest Japan


It is baffling why there is such a high rate in the country, but it has something to do with the Japanese “psyche”, and that many Japanese men feel rejected when retrenched.  Some of them had held important positions in their respective companies, including that of CEOs.  Unable to face their families and loved ones, they perhaps, in the manner of Samurai Warriors of the past, felt that suicide is one way to atone for their failures.

It is a “unique” forest in many ways —- there is barely any wildlife in here, thus it is very quiet, making it a popular destination among locals.  However, this quietness hides a more “macabre” side of it, in that it is the No.1 suicide spot for the Japanese.  Its quietness has attracted people to consider it a “haunted place”, and there are plenty of Japanese who would not dare enter the forest.  This resulted in even more myths surrounding AOKIGAHARA.  But,even if you are not attracted to ghost stories, the truth is, the place has a “special feeling” to it.
Lake_Sai_and_Aokigahara_from_Koyodai


The AOKIGAHARA has not always attracted 100s of people wishing to end their lives.  While there is some evidence that suggests that as far as the 19th century, it was a place where the Japanese carried their elders to die of starvation ( a practice called UBASUTE).  The forest became popular after the 1960s when a novel called TOWER OF WAVES by a famed author SEICHO MATSUMOTO was published.  Another book, from 1993 THE COMPLETE MANUAL OF SUICIDE by WATARU TSURUMI added fuel and increased suicide rates.  The author described the AOKIGAHARA as the perfect place to commit suicide and even described which parts of the forest are less circulated so the bodies cannot be found later on.  UBASUTE may have been practised in the forest which is reportedly haunted by the YUREI (angry spirits) of those left to die. AOKIGAHARA FOREST is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.

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3 thoughts on “Aokigahara

  1. Pingback: Lietas, ko var atrast tikai Japānā | Nekurzeme.lv

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