Eerie Aokigahara

It’s October and Halloween is coming up again. Japan is no stranger to the tacit tales of horror, mystery, and mayhem of the macabre.

Dense forest of Aokigahara.| Karl Baron

Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), also called “Sea of Trees” (Jukai), is an infamous forest located at the northwestern border of Mt. Fuji. The lush forest spans 30 square kilometers and thrives on the hardened lava from the 864 CE eruption of Mt. Fuji. The western portion of Aokigahara has several caves that fill with ice during the winter months and is a popular destination for many visitors. Some parts of the forest are very dense and porous lava absorbs sound. It’s so dense it can be very easy to get lost in, hence Aokigahara’s other name, “Sea of Trees”.

Aokigahara forest is known to be the home to yūrei or ghosts of the dead in Japanese mythology. In recent years, Aokigahara has come to be known as “Suicide Forest” and is said to be the perfect place to die.

Sucide Forest. | Steve Boland

The forest is notoriously known to be the second most popular place to commit suicide in the entire world (the first being The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco). Since the 1950’s, at least 500 people have wandered into the forest and none of them have come out.  The numbers of suicide victims have been increasing between 10 to 30 percent each year. In 2002, a record of 78 suicides occurred and a whopping 105 bodies were discovered in 2003.

Japanese spiritualists attest that the spirits of the suicide victims remain amongst the trees in Aokigahara and are generating paranormal activity.

Aokigahara.| Chris Van Wyk

The spirits are said to prevent the people who enter from ever getting out alive! Another phenomenon is the inability of compasses to function in the dense forests due to the magnetic iron in the volcanic soil. There are several signs at the beginning of some trails that were put up by the authorities urging people who go to the forest with suicide in mind, to think of their families and to contact the suicide prevention hotlines.