The suicide forest at Aokigahara on Mt Fuji

      Home » Bizarre world » The suicide forest at Aokigahara on Mt Fuji

The suicide forest at Aokigahara on Mt Fuji

Aokigahara would be the place to go for a bet. Spend a night in the suicide forest to win.
"The perfect place to die." That's how Aokigahara was described in Wataru Tsurumui's bestselling book The Complete Manual of Suicide. A dense, dark forest bordering Mt. Fuji, Aokigahara is infamous throughout Japan as a popular spot for those taking their final journey.

In 2002, 78 bodies were found within it, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998. By May of 2006, at least 16 new suicides had already been found. More than a few of them were even carrying copies of Tsurumui's book. No one knows how many bodies go undiscovered.

Signs emblazoned with messages such as "Please reconsider" and "Please consult the police before you decide to die!" are nailed to trees throughout the forest. However, the woods have such a reputation that these minor deterrents do little to stop the determined. Local residents say they can always tell who is going into the forest for its stunning natural beauty, who is hunting after the macabre and who is planning never to return.

... Quote:
We've got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as 'Suicide City' and encourage people to come here,
the exasperated mayor of Aokigahara has been quoted as saying.

Part of the appeal is dying at the foot of the sacred Mt. Fuji. Part of it is the foreboding nature of Aokigahara, so dense and thick that from just a few kilometers inside it no sounds can be heard other than those produced by the forest itself. Legends surround the place; for instance, there are said to be massive underground iron deposits that cause compasses to go haywire, trapping innocents along with the purposely suicidal.

Japan's HYPERLINK ""Self Defence Force regularly runs training exercises throughout Aokigahara, and claims to have had no trouble with their military-grade lensatic compasses. They admit, though, that commercially available equipment would be pretty much useless.

Aokigahara is considered the most haunted location in all of Japan, a purgatory for yurei, the unsettled ghosts of Japan who have been torn unnaturally soon from their lives and who howl their suffering on the winds.

Spiritualists say that the trees themselves are filled with a malevolent energy, accumulated from centuries of suicides. They don't want you to go back out.

However, even in these haunted woods, regular humans still have a job to do. Forestry workers rotate in and out of shifts at a station building in Aokigahara, and occasionally they will come upon unfortunate bodies in various states of decomposition, usually hanging from trees or partially eaten by animals.

The bodies are brought down to the station, where a spare room is kept especially for such occasions. In this room are two beds: one for the corpse and one for someone to sleep next to it. Yup, you read that correctly. It is thought that if the corpse is left alone, the lonely and unsettled yurei will scream the whole night through, and the body will move itself into the regular sleeping quarters.

In inimitable style, the workers jan-ken to see who gets to sleep with the body. And you thought your job was rough.

from here
By netchicken: posted on 26-4-2007

Gee, I wonder if I could talk a few people in taking a vacation there.

Ok, that was wrong, but it was my first thought and I thought i'd share it with my friends.

Y'all are still my friends, right? :P
By Thomas_Crowne: posted on 26-4-2007

... Quote:
Originally posted by netchicken
Local residents say they can always tell who is going into the forest for its stunning natural beauty, who is hunting after the macabre and who is planning never to return.

Hunting for the Macabre ??? People trek through the forest to especially to find the dead bodies ? Now that is a bizarre pass time. However on the other hand, it would be interesting to take a look in such a foreboding place, just for the heck of it!

I'll be sure to remember this forest when I plan a trip to Japan. Definitely worth checking out. :ws
By IAF: posted on 27-4-2007

I have lived and worked near this forest for the past year, and I can personally concure with the reports for it. I been in and around forests my entire life, and I've seen some weird and creepy shit in my time, but this forest the creepest place I have ever been to my entire life, even befor I found out about it. You don't even need to go into the woods to feel the ill presents of the forest... The woods and surrounding places is haunted by yurei. There is even a water fall here that people jump off of to kill themselves. And unless you are into beeing creeped out, I do advise not to actually plan a trip into the woods if you come to japan for a visit...
By lisdexia: posted on 24-5-2007

Hey Lisdexia, welcome to the board. :):)

Thanks for the info about the Aokigahara though it sounds even more fascinating after what you've said! Do you have any neat pictures of the place that you could share with us ??
By IAF: posted on 24-5-2007

Man it sounds like the sort of place you would go to look for the paranormal..

I think getting creeped out would be a great tourist attraction

Welcome to the board Lisdexia, great to get some new information :)
By netchicken: posted on 24-5-2007

Okay just found this and a few pictures:

Taken from Mainichi News, July 11, 2001:

Suicides stir up stink in Fuji's fearsome forest
By Ryann Connell
Staff Writer

Not another one," the restaurant worker says as she looks at the young girl, drenched, clad entirely in black and squatting for minutes in a telephone box. "Not that's there's anything unusual about her. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between tourists and suicide wanna-bes."
Aera (7/16) is at the foot of Mount Fuji on the borders of Aokigahara, a thick forest infamous across Japan for being a Mecca for those who want to take their own lives. It's a dark reputation that locals are sick of.

Consider the numbers. Up until the end of May this year alone, 16 bodies have been unearthed from the death forest. Locals discover most stiffs, but each year police and local crime-fighters launch a massive search to see how many corpses they can find among the copses. Over the past decade, the searches have turned up anything from three to 13 bodies. And though more people are going to Aokigahara to die -- 59 corpses were pulled out of the woods last year -- locals say they've had enough and won't carry out the searches anymore.

"We want people to forget Aokigahara for a little while," a local police officer says.

Aera notes that each time the annual search is carried out, it becomes hot news nationwide, a factor that seems to be pushing up the body count.

"Every time it's mentioned, it starts off a chain reaction and we end up with more suicides," a tourist industry employee says before producing a booklet that details why potential suicides -- taken into protective custody before they successfully killed themselves -- headed for Aokigahara. "Look. Nearly every case says they learned about the area from TV, newspapers or books. By ending the searches, we're throwing back the problem into society's face."

A man working in a souvenir store voices the frustrations felt by many locals.

"It bugs the hell out of me that the area's famous for being a suicide spot," he says. "There's nothing worse than seeing kids who come here go home with that impression."

Asuza Hayano, a writer who based a novel on the fearsome forest, also heaps scorn on those who top themselves in the area.

"Walking through Aokigahara uncharted is dangerous," he says. "But nature is supposed to be like that. Harsh. Aokigahara is filled with untouched natural beauty. To sully it by committing suicide is a slap in the face of the natural environment."

Despite being one of the few areas of untouched wilderness in a land largely concreted over, little beauty exists with the ritual that has earned Aokigahara its bizarre reputation.

"I've seen plenty of bodies that have been really badly decomposed, or been picked at by wild animals," a local police officer says. "There's nothing beautiful about dying in there."

Taxpayers have to foot the bill for burying the bodies found in Aokigahara, with remains interred in places specially built by the three Yamanashi Prefecture municipalities in which the forest falls. But it's these costs that prompted the local governments to push for an end to the searches for stiffs.

"We have to pay for the bodies to be disposed," says Takatoshi Kobayashi, mayor of Narusawa, one of three villages bearing the brunt of cleaning up the suicides. "Doing so keeps us away from the work we should be doing. (Suicides) ruin the area's name. We're all for an end to the searches."

So, too, are those who have to go out and look for the bodies.

"There's no need to go looking for people who've come out here to kill themselves," says a police officer who has taken part in a number of the probes. "The first time I went looking, I was pretty keen, but after that I just hung around behind the lead group and pretended to look busy. Besides, we've all got to go on the searches on our days off, so we're all glad they're not going to go on anymore."

Instead of the body-hunts, crime-fighters have turned their attention toward stopping people from committing suicide. Signs have been plastered across entrances to forest tracks urging people to refrain from killing themselves. And patrols have been set up to look for anybody with a forlorn appearance who may be considering the worst. The result of such moves was that 70 people were taken into protective custody in 2000, more than in any year of the past decade. But even the patrols have caused problems.

"Even without the searches, we've still got to find people to go on the patrols," says Fumimaro Tanaka, chief of the Kamikuishiki Fire Department, which is heavily involved in rescue work in Aokigahara. "I get the feeling the patrols are going to mean more work for the locals. And we haven't got many young people to help out. Something's gotta be done."

Narusawa Mayor Kobayashi echoes Tanaka's fears.

"We've got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as 'Suicide City' and encourage people to come here," the exasperated mayor tells Aera. "Of course, that's a joke. But we do have to do something to rectify the situation."
By IAF: posted on 24-5-2007

lookin 4 more info, this is crazy shit!!I watched a show about the Mt.Fugi woods and 4 some reason its pretty damn interesting,so if n e 1 knows were theres more info or some good pics let me no!!!!
By 48jess48: posted on 2-10-2008

They find the first one after less than a quarter of an hour, a few yards off one of the narrow paths, and no more than half a mile into the Aokigahara Sea of Trees. A man called Mr Miura spots it, and he is standing on the path as I arrive, telling the story to his fellow volunteers, and shaking his head, half with nervousness and half with pride. "I saw his knapsack first, and then I looked again and I noticed him," he says. "Can't have been there more than a day or two. I didn't want to look at the face." It's a perpetual twilight in the Sea of Trees, the rain is falling, and I don't much want to see the face either.

I push through anyway and there, just around the corner, is Mr Miura's find.

He rests on his knees, with his face and arms slumped against the ground, in an expression of anguish or supplication. His hair is close cropped and slightly grey, his shirt is clean and blue, and a long, atrocious gash runs diagonally across the right side of his neck. I wonder how old he is, and what he used to do this to himself, but I am saved from my own curiosity by the arrival of the police, who bustle everyone out of the way and set to work with cameras and body bags.

In less than an hour the dead man is wrapped, sealed and wheeled on a metal trolley to the car park where they are gathering this year's harvest from the Sea of Trees. No sooner has it been unloaded into the ambulance, than the trolley is wheeled off again to collect another find, in a deeper part of the forest.

The Aokigahara Sea of Trees is a remarkable place, and in different circumstances it would be known for any number of interesting things. In a country overrun with development, it is a genuine wilderness, one of the few virgin woods left in Japan. Delicious wild mushrooms grow in its mossy cavities; looming above it is the thrilling and immaculate shape of Mount Fuji, Japan's most famous and most sacred mountain.

But Japanese know Aokigahara for one reason alone, and there is nowhere else like it in the country, probably nowhere in the world. Every year, people come here in their scores with the sole aim of committing suicide. Last Friday, as they have done every year for the last three decades, a small army of police, volunteers and attendant journalists, go in to bring them out.

The annual search began in 1970, but never have there been such rich pickings as now. In the old days, the harvest remained fairly steady at around 20 bodies which were discovered by walkers or police over the course of the year, with just one or two of them being found on the day of the annual search. Then, about 10 years ago, the number began rising and, during 1994, 57 corpses were found. 1999 was a record crop, with more than 70 bodies recovered; the four found on Friday - including the man in the blue shirt - brought the tally for this year to 48.

"Even before today, we've had three in the last few days alone," says Kiyotaka Oyamada, chief of the local volunteer firemen who carry out the search. "Most of them are middle-aged, although you get a few youngsters, of course. Every now and then there's couple who go together - love suicides, as it were, but none this year. No teenagers this year, either, and for that I'm very grateful."

As you might expect, the inhabitants of the Aokigahara area have come to take a matter of fact, even an exasperated, attitude to the despair and death that their forest attracts, although even they are not immune to a certain amount of ghoulish fascination.

Every taxi driver has stories about passengers whom they have taken from the station to the forest, confident that they would not be taking them back.

Schoolchildren talk of white shapes that have be seen flitting around the forest at night. But the problem has become so big that, by and large, it is regarded as a tremendous nuisance.

"We'd love it if you media people would write about the walks and the trees and the beauty of it all," says Mr Oyamada, looking round in despair at the three camera crews and half a dozen reporters who have gathered to document his grisly mission. "But the hikers stick to the other side of Fuji because they're worried that they'll be walking along with their kids, and suddenly there'll be a dead man hanging from a tree. I see the relatives who come here looking for their dads and sons, I see the anxiety and suffering that it causes. I want people to understand suicide as a kind of crime that creates nothing but misery."

As the problem has grown, so has the search; on Friday 300 volunteer firemen and 44 police officers gather at the car park beneath the pouring rain. The atmosphere among the volunteers, most of whom appear to be in their sixties, is both disciplined and expectant. The life of a volunteer fireman near Mount Fuji is not, I would guess, a particularly eventful one. But today, they are performing both a valuable public service and taking part in an adventure which they will be able to recount this evening to their rapt grandchildren. "Come on," says one old bloke to his mate, as the uniformed firemen start to stream into the woods. "Let's go mushroom-picking."

But the light-heartedness evaporates after a few minutes for, truly, this is a spooky forest, somewhere between the Brothers Grimm and The Blair Witch Project. The trees, both conifers and deciduous, grow tight against one another, with creepers draped around their trunks.

The forest floor is a litter of fallen branches and great rotten logs, overgrown with a miniature jungle of feathery moss. This is a crepuscular place on the brightest of days; today, under the October drizzle, it is all shadows and indistinct shapes. To complicate matters further, compasses do not function correctly in the forest. "Something magnetic in the lava rocks from the volcano," says Mr Oyamada. "At least, that's what I heard."

Strewn between the paths are grubby scraps of tape and string which long-departed walkers have trailed behind them, like Theseus unwinding his ball of thread in the labyrinth of the Minotaur. To get lost in these woods is to be very lost indeed.

One of the bodies recovered on Friday was nothing more than a collection of bones, scattered by animals over yards of forest. "The jaw bone was 50 yards away from the skull," says one of the searchers. It must have been there for years." Those who come here to die know that, in the Sea of Trees, there is a very good chance that they will never be fished out.

Nailed to a tree is a box containing handbills left here by the local police. "Just a moment please!" they beseech. "Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Don't keep your worries to yourself - please seek counselling." The police have a van which prowls around the woods, constantly on the look out for suicides - according to their figures, 48 people have been saved from carrying through their intentions. "We sometimes get letters saying, 'Thank you for saving me. Now I am doing my best to live,'" says Minoru Kagami, the local police chief.

Most of those who succeed in killing themselves here do so by hanging, although some take pills and booze and, during the winter, there are those who simply lie down in the snow. Cutting a vein, as the man I saw appears to have done, is rare - and in such cases there is always the faint possibility of foul play. If you could get it in and out without being spotted, it would be hard to imagine a better place to dispose of a murdered body.

Why here, apart from the practical reason that is a very easy place to disappear? The answer goes a long way back. In the 19th century, feudal Japan suffered bitter famines; Aokigahara was one of many places where poor families used to come and dispose of infant and elderly mouths which they couldn't feed by the simple means of leaving them out in the open to die.

A writer named Seicho Matsumoto published a famous novel, dramatised on television, called The Pagoda of the Waves, in which a character comes to die in Aokigahara. In the car park, Kyomyo Fukui, a Buddhist monk with saffron robes and a beautifully nobbly, shaven head, provides another explanation.

"The spirits are calling people here to kill themselves, the spirits of the people who have committed suicide before," he says. He and 50 monks from his temple have come here for the first time this year to construct a temporary altar in the car park and pray for the repose of the troubled spirits of Aokigahara. "The spirits draw the unhappy people here," he says. "Prayers bring them peace, and send them home rather than doing mischief. That's why we're here." And here, on the slopes of Mount Fuji, it is easy to believe him.

For as long as recorded history, the area has been dotted with various places of worship, both conventional and unorthodox. Aum Shinri Kyo, the crazed cult that released nerve gas on the Tokyo subway, built its headquarters close to here.

The great mountain is itself a giant deity of the indigenous Shinto cult; in the whole of Japan, there is absolutely nowhere that is more symbolically Japanese than Mount Fuji. And nothing is more symptomatic of Japan's present state of national health than suicide.

The ministries of Labour and Health and Welfare have asked for 2.3m to be put aside for measures to combat suicide. But everyone knows that the only reliable way to reduce the suicide rate is an economic recovery - and that even in boom times, the number of Japanese people who can find no alternative to taking their own lives is higher than any comparable country. Until then they will continue to converge on the beautiful cone of Mount Fuji, and a lonely, twilit death in the Sea of Trees.
By netchicken: posted on 2-10-2008

The suicide forest at Aokigahara on Mt Fuji | [Login ]
Powered by XMB
Privacy Policy