Aokigahara Suicide Forest
Aokigahara – Suicide Forest Japan
At the foot of the northwest flank of Mount Fuji there lies a sprawling 30 square kilometer forest so thick it’s known by the locals as Jukai (meaning “Sea of Trees”). The rocky forest of Aokigahara, with its treacherous and uneven terrain is a challenge for even the most advanced hikers to traverse and its density can make it easy to get lost. The natural wonders of the area like the lava plateau, Naruswa Ice Cave and old growth forest along with the breathtaking views of Mount Fuji make the park a popular attraction. While Aokigahara forest is also known for its beauty it is also notorious for its more sinister reputation as The Suicide Forest of Japan.
The Haunted Forest
Aokigahara is considered one of the most haunted destinations in Japan. The forest and Mount Fuji is steeped in Japanese mythology. Even today the forest is well known in popular culture as the subject of movies and books. Local folklore has it the forest is inhabited by Yurei, ghosts that have suffered violent or unnatural deaths and cannot rest in the hereafter. It’s believed that those who killed themselves beckon others, who are troubled, off the trails and deeper into the woods, so deep they never ever come out.
Screams in the Forest
Once in the forest and amongst the densely spaced trees the stillness and silence is isolating. Not even a breath of wind can penetrate the thick woods around you. One hiker described this absence of sound as “chasms of emptiness”. When experiencing this kind of silence and you are startled by a blood-curdling scream you’re stopped dead in your tracks, as a journalist for the Japan Times lamented. A typical reaction would be to run; instead the journalist followed the gut-wrenching sound in hopes to find its source. Thinking he might find someone that needs help he found a small abandoned campsite instead. In a clearing under a tree he found pile of clothes. Upon closer inspection it was more than clothes he found. It was a lifeless body of an older man, someone whose demise was not a recent one. Who was the source of the scream? Was it a Yurei? It could not have been the older man in front of him, or could it?
Many visitors to the forest have purported to see white apparitions floating amongst the trees. Certainly the eeriness of the forest can cause one to see things that may not actually be there, but can one discount every sighting as a trick of the mind in this dark place where sadness and death is far too common? I for one would not.
Aokigahara is unfortunately a popular suicide destination and is second only to the Golden Gate Bridge in the US, which takes the number one spot. While it’s believed many of the bodies go undiscovered because of the density of the forest and the vastness of the area itself, the numbers still remain high. In 2014 and 2015 there were over 100. Annually the police and volunteers search the forest to recover remains. There is also an ongoing proactive effort by the government to reduce the death toll with frequent patrols by park officials in an attempt to identify and intervene on behalf of those who are intending to end their lives.
For more information on the Haunting of Aokigahara Forest go to: