Aokigahara Forest, also known as the “Sea of Trees” (“Jukai” in Japanese) or “Suicide Forest,” is a forested area on the northwest slope of Mount Fujiima in Japan, covering about 30 square kilometers. Aokigahara is almost entirely covered with hardened lava, which appeared here during the last major eruption of the Fuji volcano in 864 AD. The western part of the Aokigahara forest, which contains several caves (“ice” and “wind” caves) that fill with ice in winter, is a popular spot for tourists and school excursions. The forest space in these places is very dense, and the porous lava absorbs sound well, contributing to the feeling of complete solitude.
Aokigahara is a national park with several hiking trails. Visitors are encouraged to hike up Mount Fujiyama on the northern slope of the mountain or to stroll through a picturesque forest of unusually shaped trees. The forest is in close proximity to the Japanese capital of Tokyo, so it is a quite popular place for weekends, outdoor recreation, and picnics.
The Aokigahara forest consists of various conifers that have grown on the ground of volcanic rock. According to tourist reviews, the array is very quiet and windless. According to legends, this forest is home to ghosts and demons. Over time, the forest at the foot of Mount Fujiima has become a popular place to commit suicide. Today it ranks second in this sad ranking (after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) in the world.
Suicides in Aokigahara
Aokigahara Forest has been called the most popular suicide spot in Japan. Every year an incredible number of bodies of desperate people are found here. In 2002 there were 78 dead bodies in the forest, in 2003 there were 105 and in 2010 the police recorded over 200 people who had attempted suicide in the forest, with 54 of them being brought to book. The number of suicides in Aokigahara, according to statistics, increases between March and the end of the fiscal year in Japan. The most common methods of suicide in the forest are hanging or overdosing. In n recent years, the local government has even stopped publishing dry numbers in an attempt to reduce the Aokigahara forest’s association with suicide.
The suicide rate has led officials to put up a sign at the entrance to the forest, urging suicidal visitors to seek help and not end their lives. Since 1970, annual body searches have taken place in the forest with the help of police, volunteers and journalists. The history of suicide in Aokigahara dates back to the 19th century, when the area was allowed to practice the rite of ubasute, an ancient Japanese custom of sending their aged parents to the forest or mountains to die of hunger and cold, in order to reduce the cost of extra mouths. Aokigahara has been firmly associated with death ever since.
Movies about the forest of Aokigahara
Aokigahara is mentioned in many works of culture and art: literature, movies, music, anime, manga, video games, etc.
In 1960-61, Seicho Matsumoto wrote the novel Tower of Waves about the mystique of this forest. Sarah Lotz’s 2014 novel, Aokigahara Forest, is about the place where several characters died. “Sea of Trees” by Yannick Murphy is a 1997 novel about a young girl held in an isolation ward during World War II.
“Sea of Trees,” starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts, was released in 2015 and also tells stories set in this forest. In the 2016 American film “The Forest,” a woman (played by Natalie Dormer) travels to the haunted Aokigahara to rescue her twin sister. Popular YouTube blogger Paul Logan and his associates visited Aokigahara Forest on December 31, 2017, with the intention of camping there on New Year’s Eve. While in the woods, the group encountered a dead body hanging from a tree.
In 2018, BBC Radio 4 aired a program in which four poets traveled to the Aokigahara forest to write poetry there. The result is a bilingual (Japanese-English) anthology of poems and short essays about Aokigahara called Sea of Trees: Poetic Gateway to Aokigahara by poets Arai Takako, Jordan Smith, Osaki Sayaka and Yotsumoto Yasuhiro. Japanese-born American playwright Christine Haruna Lee wrote and produced the play “Suicide Forest” in New York City in 2019. It talks about suicide in America and Japan and mentions the Forest of Aokigahara. Aokigahara Forest was also featured in the paranormal Japanese reality show The Truth.
Aokigahara is also mentioned in several musical works: the track “Aokigahara” by the rap duo Suicideboys, the Aokigahara album by the Austrian black metal band Harakiri for the Sky, the video “My Ixxx” by Bis, the song “Aokigahara” by the ambient musician Flowers for Bodysnatchers, etc.
Forest of Death
In recent years, Aokigahara Forest has become the world-famous “suicide forest,” as one of the world’s most frequently used suicide sites. Signs posted at the entrance to the forest and on its paths tell visitors to think about their families and call the helpline number, which is listed right there on the announcement.
Aokigahara is a place where tourists testify that navigation compasses lose their properties. This is easily explained, though – the hands of magnetic compasses will move if placed directly in the lava, according to the natural magnetism of the rock, which depends on its iron content and its strength, depending on the location. Nevertheless, the compass behaves as expected when held at normal altitude.
Aokigahara Forest on google panoramas
How to get to Aokigahara Forest
Aokigahara Forest at the foot of the active volcano Fujiyama is located in Yamanashi Prefecture, Minamitsuru County, about 120 kilometers from Tokyo City. The forest and volcano can be reached with a sightseeing trip.
Fujikyu buses run from Shinjuku Railway Station to the Aokigahara Forest, stopping at Station 5 on Mount Fujiyama, where hiking trails begin. The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours.
You can also take the JR Chuo Line high-speed train to “Otsuki” station, then change to the Fujikyu Railway Line to “Kawaguchiko” station, then take a local bus to Fujiyama Station #5.
The trip by car will take about 1.5-2 hours. Take roads E20, 139, 71. You can also get to Aokigahara Forest by cab: through Uber app or local carriers – Japan Taxi, Takkun Tokyo Taxi, Tokyo MK, Tokyo Night Taxis, Kojinnarita Taxis, Nihon Kotsu Taxi, Tokyo Yaesu, Tokyo radio cooperative, Service Stand, Westin Tokyo and others.
10 disturbing facts about Japan’s Suicide Forest
The Aokigahara Forest is located northwest of Mount Fujiyama on the Japanese island of Honshu and is about 35 square kilometers in size. Families often come here for recreation, and it is also a favorite destination for those who have decided to commit suicide.
Of course, the parts of the forest where people have picnics and the parts where suicides hang themselves are in different places. And if you don’t know about the forest’s notoriety and don’t climb into the wilds, it will seem like a very pleasant and even beautiful place.
However, with this forest and without suicide there are enough strange things, the most famous of which are its magnetic anomalies. Compasses don’t work here, their pointers “go crazy”. There is a theory that explains it by the presence of large layers of iron ore underground, but locals believe that all this is because of the abundance of ghosts and other other otherworldly creatures in the forest.
Below we list 10 of the strangest things to see in this place.
10. There’s a lot of string and rope everywhere
If you dare to go deep into the forest of Aokigahara, you will immediately see many thick threads, colored ribbons, or ropes that are tied around the trunks of trees and that stretch to the most remote places.
The fact is that almost every person who wants to commit suicide in this place takes with him a ball of thread or a bundle of colored tape. He ties the end of the ribbon to a tree at the edge of the forest, and then gradually unwinds the ball as he goes farther and farther away.
This is done in case the suicidal man changes his mind and wants to go back. If this happens, he unwinds the rope, but if he does not return, the strings and ropes remain in this forest.
9. Scattered personal belongings.
Where the strings are strung, you can also see various things. They are simply scattered on the ground among the trees: bags, cell phones, clothes, shoes. Sometimes it’s all stacked in a neat pile.
There you can also see sandwich boxes, drink or water bottles. This was the last meal of the suicide bombers.
And if you see packages of medication, it’s mostly painkillers or sleeping pills. Mostly people hang themselves in this forest, but there are also those who choose to die through an overdose of medication.
If you find a place with a stack of clothes, empty bottles, and food packages, the suicide corpse is likely to be somewhere very close.
8. Ghosts of the Dead.
There are many legends and rumors that Aokigahara Forest is haunted by the ghosts of people who committed suicide here. The undead souls are doomed to roam this forest forever as punishment for their transgression.
Because of this, they are very angry, and to avenge their position, they can supposedly force those who hesitate or even those who have not thought of suicide at all to commit suicide.
In Japanese folklore, there is a belief that if a person dies a sudden or violent death, they become a being called a Yurei. Yurei are filled with anger and can unleash it on a living person at will, making him want to kill himself as well.
There are many stories of people visiting the Aokigahara Forest who had never thought about suicide until that moment, but who suddenly felt a strong urge to kill themselves, as if something were forcing them to do so. Those who have resisted this pressure and managed to leave here safely have usually never returned afterwards, for fear of being attacked by something evil again.
7. Warning Signs
In an effort to stop the flow of suicides the local authorities put up warning signs all over the forest. On them, the appeal not to kill yourself was written and the telephone numbers of social services were listed.
To tell the truth, it is still not clear whether these signs helped at least one suicide. There is even a theory that maybe they are just another way of reminding them why they came to the place, and thus further stimulate them to commit the deed.
6. 100 bodies a year
On the average each year the remains of about one hundred suicides are removed from the Aokigahara forest (those that have been found, of course). There are special groups whose job it is to walk through this forest and look for bodies, and then call the police.
If they come across a living person who has apparently come here to commit suicide, they pick him up and take him to special “safe houses” located near the forest. There, a psychologist will further communicate with these people.
5. Official data on suicidal people are no longer reported
It is unclear how many people now come to die in the Aokigahara forest because the local authorities have prohibited reporting such information to the press.
It is believed that this was done in order not to “advertise” the place unnecessarily. The fact that the forest Aokigahara in recent years has become widely known throughout the world thanks to the Internet and several horror movies.
The flow of tourists has increased here, and also, as rumor has it, the number of suicidal people who have begun to come here has also increased. Allegedly, some even come from other countries to kill themselves in the Aokigahara Forest.
4. It is forbidden to spend the night
Although there is no official ban on it, staying overnight in Aokigahara Forest is highly discouraged and discouraged. Either in a tent or like that.
It is considered disrespectful to the spirits and can give impressionable people a heart attack, because the forest is even scarier in the dark.
There is a story that the local ghosts are activated at night, and if you spend the night in a tent, there is a great chance not to survive until morning, and to commit a quick suicide.
3. Evil Energy
The esotericists, psychics and other mediums believe that everything in this place is saturated with evil energy. It permeates everything around, trees, grass, flowers. That is why you should not bring anything from this place to your home.
The problem is that the place is not a trendy place at all, but the Aokigahara forest was notorious for being in the public domain long before it was even described in the press.
There are legends that as early as the 19th century some families used to bring their elderly relatives here to die an easy death with dignity.
2. the forest caves
Forest Aokigahara at the foot of Mount Fujiyama is only part of the anomalous zone that arose here after a powerful earthquake in 864 AD. Lava from the volcano spread over an area of 12 square miles and when it solidified, many cave systems were formed.
Over time, these places have become overgrown with forests, including the Aokigahara forest, and these mysterious forest caves have never been properly explored. Over the centuries there have been myths about them, according to which strange creatures live here, which are much scarier than ghosts.
1. Are magnetic anomalies the cause of suicides?
As we wrote at the beginning of this article, there is a magnetic anomaly in the Aokigahara forest whose nature has not yet been revealed. There is a theory that this anomaly is the reason why people here go crazy and commit suicide.
A certain group of researchers studied magnetic anomalies in different places and different countries, and they came to the conclusion that the places where there are magnetic anomalies tend to have abnormally high suicide rates among people.