Let’s NOT visit: Aokigahara Forest
Aokigahara forest, based at Mount Fuji, is a well-known suicide destination in Japan. Referred to by the local population as “Jukai” which means “sea of trees”, a word used to describe the flourishing tree growth on the dried lava soil after Mt. Fuji last erupted in the year 864. In recent years it’s been commonly named “The Suicide Forest” by the media.
At a rate of an average 100 bodies are found every year, this haunted spot is one of the country’s most know locations for this kind of events to happen. The suicide plague has been so bad the last 10 years, that the local authorities who govern the sprawling 30 sq-km tract of woodland in the Yamanashi prefecture, started putting signs up and deliberately stop publishing the rising number of discoveries they find. The one in the video says:
“ Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Please think about your parents, siblings and children. Don’t keep it to yourself, talk about your troubles. “
With a request below to contact the Suicide Prevention Association.
The attraction of Aokigahara is often attributed to the 1960 novel Nami no Tō (波の塔) by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest. This novel is still a popular trigger for modern day people to visit this lush green scenery. Yet this dark place of stark beauty was, and actually still is, long associated with demons from Japanese mythology. Thus the appellation: “Suicide forest”.
Although the forest itself is a densely packed green sea consisting of mainly pine trees and a wealth of indigenous foliage of shrubs and mosses, it can’t seem to get rid of the grudge feeling surrounding it when you go for a hike. Commonly reported items by hikers & park officials are: liquor bottles, briefcases, clothing, beer cans, abandoned tents, prescription pills (mainly sleeping pills) and documents from former owners who sought their final resting place there.
Thoughts on the future of the forest, by Japan Times Online:
Experts are quick to point out the impact of the global financial crisis, especially since the world’s third-largest economy suffered its most severe contraction in over 30 years in 2009.
It is also believed that next year will see a further rise in suicides due to the magnitude-9 megaquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan on March 11. “It is likely to have a huge influence,” said Yoshinori Cho, director of the psychiatry department at Teikyo University in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, and author of a book titled “Hito wa naze Jisatsu Suru no ka” (“Why do People Commit Suicide?”)
Already there have been several suicides by relatives of disaster victims, while the long-term effects of life in evacuation shelters may also lead to depression and thus, directly or indirectly, to further suicides, Cho added.
“It’s not just regular depression, but also clinical depression due to the stress caused by the reality of their circumstances,” he said. “Depression is a huge risk factor when it comes to suicide.”