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 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.
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.
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.