At the base of Japan”s Mount Fuji is a hauntingly beautiful forest known as Aokigahara, or Sea of Trees. The forest formed after the last eruption of Mount Fuji in the eighth century. It”s a 14 square mile forest that is notoriously quiet and almost devoid of all wildlife.
But this forest has another name and a much more sinister reputation among modern Japanese. They call it the Suicide Forest.
Traditionally, Aokigahara has been associated with demons in Japanese mythology.
Looking at fog choked scenes like this, it”s not hard to imagine why that”s so.
But in modern Japan, this forest at the northwestern base of Mount Fuji has become a magnet for troubled people looking to take their own lives. It”s estimated that nearly 100 people commit suicide in Aokigahara every year.
There are a number of designated trails for tourists and hikers to use to explore the forest. It”s not recommended to wander off the path. Those who do might come across grisly scenes of human remains like this on the forest floor.
No one is exactly sure why so many people choose to take their lives in Aokigahara. There is some speculation that the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai began the trend.
However, the forest was associated with death and suicide long before then. In ancient times, families would abandon their elderly relatives in the forest for them to die. It”s said that some of their spirits still haunt Aokigahara.
The preferred method of those who commit suicide in Aokigahara is hanging, followed by drug overdoses.
Since the 1970s, police and local authorities have conducted annual sweeps of the forest to remove the bodies of people who have ended their lives there. However, the forest of Aokigahara is thick, and not every body can be found and removed.
The problem is so bad that the local government has stopped publishing the number of confirmed suicides in Aokigahara in hopes that it will dissuade people.
Sadly, despite that and the signs throughout the designated paths urging people to get help, Japan”s Suicide Forest is still earning its name.
It”s hard to accept that a forest of such beauty, right at the foot of a majestic mountain, could contain such darkness and despair. If you every find yourself considering such a thing, please get help.