1:40pm April 30, 2011

Aokigahara Jukai: The Suicide Forest

Aokigahara is a woodland at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan where more than 500 people have committed suicide since the 1950’s.

The trend has supposedly started after Seicho Matsumoto published his novel Kuroi Kaiju (Black Sea of Trees) where two of his characters commit suicide there. Since then, people have flocked to the forest to hang themselves among the trees, which are so thick that many places are completely dark even in the middle of the day.

The forest is hard to navigate. compasses and gps devices reportedly fail, so the ground is littered with tracking tapes. roots twist and rise out of uneven layers of volcanic rock, which tunnel into hundreds of caves. on the forest’s borders, signs warn workers and visitors to watch out for persons seen entering the forest without any gear, because “the sea of trees” is the world’s second most popular site for suicide. government workers often stumble across bodies, decomposing on the forest floor, or swinging from a tree. Spirits and demons are rumored to haunt the trees.

Besides bodies and homemade nooses, the area is littered with signs displaying such uplifting messages like “Life is a precious thing! Please reconsider!” or “Think of your family!”

In the 70s, the problem got national attention and the Japanese government began doing annual sweeps of the forest in search of bodies. In 2002, they found 78. But who knows how many they missed? In all likelihood there probably is a hanged person somewhere in Aokigahara on any given day. You can see some of them here. WARNING: These images are of actual dead people, and are very disturbing.

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    Very beautiful place though, minus the fact that you might get lost and stumble on a corpse or two.
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