A lonely place to die, Aokigahara, the dense vegetation at the foot of Japan’s Mount Fuji, makes it easier to disappear and never be seen again. Its thick foliage gave it the name of ‘Sea of Forests’, but there is something more grotesque about it. Every year, the forest authorities remove more than 100 dead bodies found hanging from trees at this country’s suicide spot. With quite a number horrifying places all over the world, the Suicide forest holds way too many stories of suicides that were never discovered and many more to be told.
- The Second most popular suicide destination
In 2003, around 105 bodies were found in the forest, breaking the previous record of 78 in 2002. As of 2011 updated list, more than 120 committed suicide in the dense forest. Though the statistics vary as some corpses go undiscovered for years or might even be lost as the forest is extremely dense.
- The Dark History
Ubasute, that translates to abandoning the old woman, it is said that Ubasute was performed in the forest at desperate times, when families couldn’t afford to feed the mouths. So to lessen the burden, they would send an elderly relative to a mountain or remote area to die. Which has made it one of the places where people after facing isolation and depression end up committing suicide.
- Attempts to prevent Suicide
Considering the fact of high suicide rate in the forest, Japan Government enacted a plan of action that aimed at reducing the rate by 20%. Many cameras and security personnel have been placed at the entrance of the forest. Also many patrolling sessions are conducted in a month, with many counsellors who have posted many posters and banners throughout the forest offering messages like, “Think carefully about your children, your family” and “Your life is a precious gift from your parents.”
4. Humans still have a job to do
After the patrolling, when the forest workers come upon bodies of the dead, it is brought down to the station and if the burial is supposed to be the next day, a spare room with two beds has been made. Between the two beds one is for the corpse and one for someone to sleep next to it. It is thought that if the corpse is left alone the yurie will scream the whole night.
- The Eeriness of place might engulf you
And if you thought of having a leisurely stroll get out of the dream because leave aside the reputation the location and environment of the place itself has some grotesque feel to offer. With their roots winding across the forest ground in a treacherous web with an uneven, rocky and perforated ground will give you the chills of life. Whoever has come out of the place always complain of the feeling of isolation and the silence which is the chasm of emptiness.
- When novel popularised this idea.
In 1960, Seicho Matsumoto, a Japanese writer released a tragic novel Kuroi Jukai. The novel talked about a heartbroken lover who resorts to committing suicide in the Sea of Trees. This romantic and bizarre imagery proved to be a sinister influence on Japanese. The ‘Complete Suicide Manual’ which calls Aokigahara as the perfect place to die has brought another doom on the people as the book has been found among the abandoned possession of many visitors who committed suicide.
- Yurei might get after You!
Many believe that the forest is haunted and have experienced white figures drifting between the trees. These ghost sightings are said to be those abandoned by ubasute and the mournful spirits of the suicidal linger in the forest. People say that the spirits wish to take a vengeance and torment the visitors to commit suicide. Many have lost their way and were never able to get out of the forest and thus making folklore claim that spirits made the person commit suicide.
- In search of the remains.
Patrolling is conducted by many volunteers but these annual endeavors are not to rescue people or stop them from committing suicide rather it is for something bizarre. These endeavors are made to collect the remains of the people; bodies are brought back for proper burial. Also many remains like wallets, belts and shoes are discovered.
- Tent- Plan to suicide
Though camping is allowed in the forest but it is expected that if one brings a tent they are planning of suicide. It is said that the ones who get tents are not sure of the suicide and will stay in the forest debating their fates. Many such cases have been seen in the past and the prevention patrol had to talk to them and convince them to leave the forest.
- Tape for rescue
As the forest is dense people use tape to mark their way. They loop the tape or plastic ribbon around the trees. In this Sea of Trees, anyone can get lost so using tape is one common practice by the visitors so that they don’t get lost, as it may turn out to be fatal, because there is no way to get out.
- The number is not reachable
Suicide Forest is rich in magnetic iron because of which it makes the cellphone services extremely poor. GPS system and to an extent even the compass doesn’t work in the forest. With no way to reach the outer world, it is deadly if you are lost and that is why tape becomes crucial.
- Not everyone plans to die
With extreme media coverage on the number of deaths and claiming it to be a Suicide Forest has degraded the value of this natural beauty. Locals lament that the gorgeous view of Mountain Fuji it offers to the tourists is not considered and only the lethal allure is put in front of people.
- Some might even fail
Not everyone who has come to the forest to kill themselves succeeds in their plan. Many times people fail and return back, Hideo Watanabe who owns a shop near the entrance of the forest once had an experience of a lady who had failed to kill herself, she had a rope around her neck with eyes popping out. He gave her some aid and had called for an ambulance.
- Ghastly Discoveries on your way
Many tourists who have taken a tour of the forest have come across many abandoned personal stuff and even human bones for that matter. It becomes extremely horrific to see bodies hanging from the branches, so if you plan to venture in this forest better stay on the path.
- Are the spirits calling?
Mount Fuji is considered to be a spiritual place but the Buddhist monks claim that the spirits of the people who have committed suicide in the forest in the past, are calling more and more to kill themselves. Many monks believe that the evil spirits are hunting the forest and inspire people to kill themselves.
- Or is it the curse?
During one of the visits to the forest it was found that a Jack Skellington- like doll with its face cut off was nailed upside down to a tree as a sort of inverted crucifixion. It is believed that the character being nailed upside down is a sign of contempt for the society and the curse has been nailed in it. Apparently, it isn’t uncommon for the people killing themselves to leave a curse on the society.
- Nerve chilling experience
One of the travelers who went inside the forest has claimed that her tape was cut deliberately, leaving her lost in the woods. Though after many hours she tried to manage to get out, but the question still prevails as to who had cut her tape? To be safe, go inside with a group of people each moving with a tape.
- Screams that will make you scream
Many people have reported of hearing bloodcurdling, unnatural and bizarre screams while wandering the forest. Yurei, the name for ghost is believed to be making such noises. Though it can psychological as well, but the locals have made claims of hearing the screams quite often.
19. But through all this beauty awaits you
Across this forest awaits the Narusawa Ice Cave, a breath taking natural monument that was formed around the year 864 following a volcanic eruption of Mt. Fuji. It has remarkable display of iced rooms and columns. There are even marvelous pillars hanging down from the cave’s ceiling, that will definitely leave you spellbound.