AOKIGAHARA Forest, also known as JUKAI, the Sea of Green, is a 35-kilometre (14 sq. mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mt. Fuji. Aokigahara also goes by other names that are not so inviting, the most ‘popular’ being the Suicide Forest (followed by the Cursed Forest and the Black Forest).
The Suicide Forest grew up on top of an old lava flow. The ground is uneven and deceptive. Often you will take a step onto something that looks firm only to find yourself tripping as your foot falls into one of the many holes on the forest floor. There are many small caves scattered about. The forest is dense and forms canopies over the forest floor. This canopy blocks the wind, and, with no insects or wildlife around, the forest is eerily quiet.
Aokigahara has been associated with death and evil spirits even before it became popular as a place for suicide. An old Japanese tradition of ubasute was said to have been practiced where the elderly and the sick were carried into the forest and left to die. Their angry spirits, called Yūrei, haunt the forest, encouraging the suicidal people who enter to go through with their terrible urge to die.
The Japanese believe that if a person dies a sudden, unnatural or violent death (such as suicide), the spirit will turn into a Yūrei. If a body is not properly buried, or if a person dies with strong, negative feelings such as depression or rage, then the spirit will turn into a Yūrei. There are a lot of angry spirits in this forest.
People who have hiked through this forest have described themselves as feeling panicky and say it feels like the trees are trying to engulf them. Since the 1950’s, over 500 people have committed suicide in Aokigahara. And the body count is increasing each year.
You will find lots of plastic ribbons (like police tape) snaking through the forest. The people who go into the forest thinking about suicide but are not certain they will go through with it will leave these ribbons as trails to follow back out of the forest. The majority of suicides hang themselves; the others overdose on pills.
At least once a year, the local people and the Forest Rangers go into the forest to search for bodies. They call it the Body Hunt. These searchers have reported hearing high pitched screams and wailing in this otherwise silent forest. Tourists who brave the woods take pictures and videos showing mists and orbs.
There are signs posted in Japanese and in English trying to get people to reconsider their actions.
“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.
Please contact the Suicide Prevention Association”