Published in Oct 2019 / Updated in Feb 2021
I have always had a keen interest in all things creepy. Aokigahara Forest in Japan is a place many have visited to test their strength of mind. Hellingly Hospital is another that is said to be haunted beyond belief. Following are some of the creepiest places on earth.
Aokigahara Forest, Japan.
Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees or the Suicide Forest, is a forest on the northwestern flank of Japan’s Mount Fuji, thriving on 30 square kilometres of hardened lava laid down by the last major eruption of Mount Fuji in 864 CE.
Statistics on Aokigahara’s suicide rates vary, in part because the forest is so lush that some corpses can go undiscovered for years or might be forever lost. However, some estimates claim as many as 100 people a year have successfully killed themselves there.
Self-inflicted death doesn’t carry the same stigma in this nation as it does in others. Seppuku—a samurai’s ritual suicide thought to be honourable—dates back to Japan’s feudal era. And while the practice is no longer the norm, it has left a mark. “Vestiges of the seppuku culture can be seen today in the way suicide is viewed as a way of taking responsibility.
Hellingly Hospital, formerly the East Sussex County Asylum was a large psychiatric hospital close to the village of Hellingly, east of Hailsham, in the English county of East Sussex.
Patients and staff all lived in red brick buildings, villas of this gigantic asylum. Men and women lived in separate wings. There were big windows to let in as much light as possible. Even as “advanced” as it was thought to be, Hellingly was also a place where women who had children out of wedlock were incarcerated.
There is something utterly creepy about seeing a child’s wheelchair in the decaying mental hospital. According to county asylum records, Hellingly Asylum had a special building just for “mentally defective” children. Of course, this was back in a time when people were locked away in isolation, people with mental illness or an illness in which the family did not want to deal.
La Isla de la Muñecas
The Island of the Dolls, located in the channels of Xochimilco, south of the center of Mexico City, very close to the Estadio Azteca football stadium, is a chinampa of the Laguna de Teshuilo and one of the main attractions of the channels
located in the canals of Xochimilco lies a playground of decapitated doll heads and mutilated limbs which hang eerily from trees. La Isla de las Muñecas – Island of the Dolls – attracts hundreds of thrill-seeking tourists all year, but particularly on this haunted night, fascinated by this grotesque display of dolls.
For over 15 years, the dolls have been left scattered on the branches shadowing the banks of this island or spiked on poles hidden in the nightmarish woods that occupy this remote area just outside of Mexico City. Their soulless eyes seem to follow your every move and visitors have claimed to hear anguished wails and whimpers, believed to be from the ghost of a small girl that haunts the island.
Legend has it that a young girl tragically drowned in these parts some 50 years ago. All that was left of her was her doll floating in the waters where she had disappeared. To pay his respects, the man that found the doll, Julian Santana Barrera, former caretaker of the island, strung it up to a nearby tree and continued to hang more to appease the troubled spirit.
The Maunsell Forts
The Maunsell Forts are armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were operated as army and navy forts and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell.
After their successful wartime career, the forts were decommissioned in the 1950s. The Nore Army Fort was badly damaged by both a storm and being struck by a ship and was dismantled in 1959-60. In the 1960s and 70s, the remaining abandoned forts were famously taken over as pirate radio stations.
The forts are now in varying states of decay, and attempting to enter them is probably ill-advised, if not illegal. They can be seen by boat or, on a clear day, from Shoeburyness East Beach.
The old Jewish Cemetery
The Old Jewish Cemetery is a Jewish cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic, which is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century till 1786.
Around 12,000 crumbling stones (some brought from other, long-gone cemeteries) are heaped together, but beneath them are perhaps as many as 100,000 graves, piled in layers because of the lack of space.
Nagoro is a tiny Japanese village with one very notable feature: a life-sized doll population that outnumbers the human population by nearly 10:1. The toy residents are the work of local Tsukimi Ayano, who began making doll replicas of her neighbours after they died or moved away. The eerie doppelgängers can be seen in various positions across the town—fishermen sitting on the riverbank, students filling entire classrooms, elderly couples resting on benches outside of buildings. There are now around 350 dolls and 27 breathing humans (the youngest is over the age of 50) in Nagoro, making it a quirky and somewhat terrifying Toyland.
From the late 1800s to the 1960s, Centralia was a quaint but bustling town in Pennsylvania, thanks to its prosperous coal mines. However, when a mine mysteriously caught fire in 1962, the flames began to spread underground via the interconnecting tunnels. Although the citizens were aware of the situation, they weren’t truly troubled until two isolated incidents some years later: a gas station owner reporting abnormally high gasoline temperatures in his underground tanks in 1979, and a young boy nearly falling into a 150-foot-deep sinkhole in his backyard in 1981. Since those disturbing occurrences, the town’s population decreased sharply. As of 2014 (the date of the most recent census), only seven residents remain, although Centralia seems like a complete ghost town upon visiting. If you ever find yourself in the deserted city, you’ll find many torn down buildings, crumbled sidewalks, and the cracked, graffiti-filled Route 61. And just in case you forgot why the town is deserted, you can occasionally see smoke billowing out from the subterranean fires, which scientists estimate will continue to burn for at least another 250 years.
Hanging Coffins, Sagada, Philippines
If you want to visit the dead in Sagada, you’ll have to look up—rather than six feet under. The people of this region are known for burying their dead in coffins attached to the sides of cliffs, like an aerial cross-section of your average cemetery. The tradition goes back thousands of years: carve out your own coffin, die, and get hoisted up next to your ancestors. Many of the cliff side coffins are hundreds of years old and all look completely different, as they were specially made by the person who now rests inside of them.