Japan is known for its strange and mysterious occurrences, including legends of tragic deaths, blood-curdling legends, and high rates of suicide. One place that embodies these themes is the Aokigahara Forest, also known as the "Suicide Forest."
The Aokigahara Forest
The Aokigahara Forest, located at the base of Mount Fuji, is a dense, green forest with thousands of swaying trees. The forest exudes an eerie atmosphere and from above, appears like a vast green sea, earning it the nickname "Jukai," meaning "Sea of Trees" in Japanese.
The forest floor is irregular and home to small caves, with moss-covered roots growing on top of dried lava. The soil has a high iron content which disrupts GPS and cellular signals.
The Aokigahara Forest is known for being easy to get lost in and many people who have wandered off the designated trails have not returned alive. Visitors are strongly advised to stick to the designated trails to avoid getting lost.
Here's Why It's Notorious As "The Suicide Forest?"
The Aokigahara Forest, known as the "Suicide Forest," is a popular destination for those seeking its natural beauty and mystery. However, some visitors enter the forest with the intention of taking their own lives. Signs at the entrance remind visitors of the importance of their lives and to think of their loved ones, and also provide a number for a suicide hotline.
Volunteers who clean the woods come across dozens of corpses each year, but many more remain undiscovered in the dense forest. The three most common methods of suicide are hanging, drug overdose, and stabbing. In 2004, there was a high number of reported suicides (108 total), leading authorities to stop publicizing the deaths in order to avoid promoting the act.
In 2009, Yamanashi prefecture, where the Aokigahara Forest is located, started employing patrols to monitor the forest and approach individuals who appear to be more than just casual hikers.
Japan has the highest suicide rate among developed countries, reaching a peak in 2015. However, since the implementation of preventative measures, the rate has slightly decreased but the issue remains prevalent.
According to historical accounts, Japanese people have a tradition of choosing specific locations to commit suicide, making it a disturbing trend. The Aokigahara Forest is one such location that has gained notoriety as a popular spot for suicide.
When venturing into areas of the Aokigahara Forest where suicides are most common, with the help of guides, it is possible to see lines of plastic tape tied to trees by rescue workers. These tapes mark the spots where bodies were found and serve as an escape route for those who may not have fully decided to go through with suicide.
The Creepy Legends Behind The Aokigahara Suicide Forest
Aokigahara Forest is said to be associated with the ancient practice of "Ubasute," in which people would abandon their elderly or sick relatives in remote areas to die. This practice is part of the local folklore and Gothic legends surrounding the forest.
Aokigahara is also believed to be haunted by demons in Japanese mythology, specifically by the spirits of those who died with strong negative emotions, called "Yurei." These spirits are said to wander aimlessly, seeking to be freed from their curse.
Additionally, it is believed that evil spirits may lure people into their realm at night by mimicking a woman's voice and physically grasping at those who investigate.
Many Japanese spiritualists claim that the ancient trees of Aokigahara Forest hold malevolent energy accumulated over the centuries, which attracts people to their deaths.
According to Tomasz Lazar, a Polish photographer who has been fascinated with Aokigahara Forest since his middle school days, the forest provides an opportunity to explore the effects of depression in a country like Japan where mental health issues are not openly discussed and the stigma around suicide is different from that in the West.
Despite its association with death and suffering, Aokigahara Forest is a beautiful and unique destination in Japan that should not be missed, it's an undeniable beauty.
Here's How To Reach The Aokigahara Forest
If you're interested in hiking in Aokigahara Forest, it is located about two hours by car west-southwest of Tokyo. The forest is not accessible by car, you need to take the Fujikyu Railway to Kawaguchiko train station and then take the Retro Bus. The entrance is at the parking lot of the Lake Sai Bat Cave.
Do You Know Which is The World's Most Popular Suicide Spot?
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is considered to be the most popular suicide spot in the world.
Approximately 1,600 people have committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge since it opened in 1937, making it the most popular location for suicide in the world. To prevent suicides, authorities have installed a safety net under the bridge.