One thing I’ve always found extremely satisfying is the idea of [large] Forests. I like the concept of the lush atmosphere, the trees looming around, and most of all: the sunlight – peering trough the tree trunks, reminding you that there is an exit if you happen to delve too deep. But like many things I like, there’s usually a dark side to it, [I promise, I’m not just referencing Star Wars!] maybe there’s vicious animals living inside that forest, or maybe there is no exit, or maybe there is dead people among the trees…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind.
Another thing I’ve always had an interest in is Japan: with it’s culture, the way of life, the food – it’s all something I’d love to experience first hand if given the chance. Of course, this ties in with the first thing I mentioned – as Japan is home to many Forests, specifically one. At the base of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji lies one such Forest. Although beautiful to look at from a distance, [see it here!] at the base of this post card looking mountain lies [what some believe is] a haunted destination of broken souls known as Aokigahara, often referred to as the “Sea Of Trees”…or more infamously as the “Suicide Forest.” That’s right, that new movie: The Forest is based on this Aokigahara, and although I’ve read a lot of negative reviews on the movie, [which is unfortunate because I was looking forward to that one!] I’m here to talk to you about the actual Forest located in Japan. Be forewarned though, this has the potential to get very depressing, as we’re talking about a real place where people go to commit suicide. If you think you’re still ready to go forward, read on. I promise my next post will be more positive! Think of cats, or something that makes you happy while reading this: cause this post is about to get dark and depressing..
From the very moment you step into Aokigahara, it quickly becomes obvious that something is slightly “off” about the place, mainly the eerie silence. The harsh density of the closely packed trees blocks any sign of the sun or wind, making it a dark and uncomfortable blanket of quiet. It doesn’t help either, when you begin to realize a lack of wildlife in the area. The sounds of birds that you’d come to expect to hear from a Forest are.. missing. Some have described the quality of sounds in Aokigahara as somewhat muted, almost as if they were being heard from another room. And that’s not even the scary part.. While walking around, people have claimed that they’ve ‘become aware’ of bizarre and creepy litter strewn about the forest floor. Things like pairs of shoes – both for children and adults – have been seen lined up on moss covered logs. Things like a packet of entirely mundane photographs, with song lyrics scribbled on the envelope. Even things like a child’s doll lying on top of the twisted roots of a [dead] tree. They seem out of place, even random, especially seeing as they come off as abandoned items left to rot among the trees. The thing is, even if they are random.. they give off a growing sense of foreboding and uneasiness.
Regardless of all this though, many tourists still visit the area [willingly!] to see the scenery and the numerous rocky caverns that are scattered throughout the Forest. Many of these caverns are deemed too dangerous to the unaware, with warning signs in front of most, and even amongst the thick trees..but for some reason, large numbers of visitors still brave the trek just to see them every year. But remember what I said above? Remember what this Forest is known for? That’s right, I’m talking about the poor, lost souls who come here every year to die.
That’s right! After all, it is called the Suicide Forest for a reason. Often referred to as “The perfect place to die,” Aokigahara is said to be the most popular place to commit suicide in Japan and the second in the world after The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Believe it or not, it’s been happening since [at least] the 1950s. This Forest has attracted ever growing numbers of people who come to the silence and the solemn for their final breaths, with the year 2003 seeing a record number of 108 suicides. What’s even more depressing is that these numbers are from the bodies that are found by monthly patrols and annual “body hunts,” which is when police and volunteers search the Forest for victims..
Even if 108 seems like a lot of deaths, you have to consider – the number is likely even higher because of some of the areas within the forest such as: the numerous caves, crevasses, and caverns. Not to mention, the Forest’s ability to quickly and thoroughly decompose remains with how dead the Forestry is. Some of the bodies of these victims are stumbled across by accident by visitors, who, while hiking through the otherwise beautiful wilderness seem to come across the horrific sight of a corpse hung from a tree. The sad reality is that it’s quite literally impossible for police and volunteers to locate all of the deceased that seem to be hidden away within this dark Forest, or to accurately estimate how many have died. The only thing that seems to be known for sure is that every year, the number of those who come to Aokigahara to die seems to be increasing – yearly.
Of course, there’s many theories as to why these lonely souls drawn to Aokigahara. One of the more popular theories claiming it’s supernatural forces within the Forest that call them. Some survivors of suicide attempts [who attempted in Aokigahara] have told accounts of having the feeling of being somehow called to or ‘pulled towards’ the Forest.. or even having the inexplicable compulsion to make a trip to “visit.”
This isn’t the only time Aokigahara has had mentions of paranormal happenings though. Even before records started being kept on suicides within Aokigahara Forest, the area had long been seeped in spooky lore and mythology. This Forest was long believed to be the living space of demons and ghosts who lived among the trees, who enjoyed terrifying travelers. It is also theorized that it was once a popular place for the [very unfortunate]practice of something called ubasute – a custom which has a sick or elderly relative who was purposely abandoned in a abandoned location such as a mountainside or [in this case] a Forest, only to behind: left to die – in the case of Aokigahara, locals claim that the victims of ubasate had became vengeful ghosts, and started living among the trees; preying on the weak.
Needless to say, Aokigahara is a very sad and very real place. It’s claimed the lives of thousands, if not more; with the number ever growing. Today’s question is somewhat difficult to answer, so I understand if you don’t really know how to respond: why do You think people go to Aokigahara? Is it really “the most beautiful place to die?” Or are these people being called by demons, vengeful spirits, or some other indescribable evil force? Let me know what Your thoughts are in the comments below. If you aren’t entirely sure of an answer, fear not! Because in all honesty… I feel that only those lost and forgotten souls – the ones who spent their last moments in this dark and quiet shadow-like Forest of Mt. Fuji – will ever know the real answer for sure..
THANKS FOR READING.