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Japan's Mysterious Suicide Forest 'Aokigahara'

Michael Nedelman, 02/11/2019

Aokigahara forest is in the shadow of Mount Fuji in Japan and it has been given the name of the second most popular location in the world to commit suicide.  

The forest was called the perfect place to die and it comes in just after the Golden Gate Bridge as being the most popular place for suicide. Ever since the 1950s people in Japan have gone into the forest and at least 500 never made it back out.

It was said that people committed suicide in the forest of a rate of around 10 to 30 per year. However, recently the number of people who have chosen to die in the forest has risen and in 2002 there were said to be 78 suicides. In 2003 that number increased again and 105 bodies were found in the forest.

Spiritualists in Japan believe that those who committed suicide in the Aokigahara forest have permeated the trees and this has generated paranormal activity that stops many people who go into the forest from coming back out. To complicate matters, even more, a compass cannot be used in the forest thanks to the magnetic iron rich deposits in the regions volcanic soil, which render a compass useless.

The Aokigahara forest is vast and once people venture among the sea of trees people very rarely come across others. Police in Japan have put up signs saying that life is a gift that is precious from parents so please consult the police before choosing to die.

However, despite there being many signs throughout the forest, it does not stop people from venturing into the forest to commit suicide. Every year volunteers who have chosen to help clear the forest come across around 70 corpses, and it is thought that there may be much more hidden in the thick woodland. Since 2003 the authorities in Japan stopped publishing a number of suicides in the forest, to try to avoid making the woodland so popular.

Contemporary news outlets in Japan have noticed the recent spike in the amount of suicides within the forest and they put the blame on the economic downturn in Japan. The ending of the romantic novel Kuroi Jukai by Seicho Matsumoto was also blamed as this helped to revitalize the suicide forest as the novel ends with the characters being driven to joint suicide in the forest.

Local people in Japan have said that they can spot the different types of visitors going into the forest. There are those who just want to see the vistas offered by Mount Fuji and there are those who are hoping to see the bodies of those who have committed suicide and others who go there to commit suicide.

Those who do go there to end their lives do not give any thought to the locals along with the workers in the forest. One local man said that it bugged him that the region was famous due to it being a suicide spot. A police officer said that he had come across many bodies with some of them being decomposed rather badly and those that had been picked at by the wild animals. He said that there really was nothing very beautiful about dying in the forest.

Forest workers have things even harder than the police as the workers have to carry down the bodies from the forest and take them to the local station and into a room used just for housing the corpses of suicide victims. The forest workers are said to then play the rock, paper, scissors game, which in Japan is called Jan, Ken, Pon, with the loser having to remain in the same room with the corpse. It is thought that if the corpse were to be left alone it is bad luck for the ghost of the person who committed suicide. Some people believe that the spirit of the person will scream in the night and the dead body would move around on its own accord.

Japan's Mysterious Suicide Forest 'Aokigahara'


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