Sunday, June 19, 2011

AOKIGAHARA - THE SUICIDE WOODS OF MT FUJI

Aokigahara is a 35 km² forest that lies at the north west base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations.

The forest, which has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, is a popular place for suicides; in 2002, 78 bodies were found, despite numerous signs, in Japanese and English, urging people to reconsider their actions.

Reportedly Aokigahara is the world's second most popular suicide location after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. This popularity is often attributed to the 1960 novel Nami no Tō by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara dates from before the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death: "ubasute" was allegedly practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of those left to die.

Aokigahara is considered the most haunted location in all of Japan, a purgatory for yurei, the unsettled ghosts of Japan who have been torn unnaturally soon from their lives and who howl their suffering on the winds. Spiritualists say that the trees themselves are filled with a malevolent energy, accumulated from centuries of suicides. They don't want you to go back out.

However, even in these haunted woods, regular humans still have a job to do. Forestry workers rotate in and out of shifts at a station building in Aokigahara, and occasionally they will come upon unfortunate bodies in various states of decomposition, usually hanging from trees or partially eaten by animals. The bodies are brought down to the station, where a spare room is kept especially for such occasions. In this room are two beds: one for the corpse and one for someone to sleep next to it. Yup, you read that correctly. It is thought that if the corpse is left alone, the lonely and unsettled yurei will scream the whole night through, and the body will move itself into the regular sleeping quarters. In inimitable style, the workers jan-ken to see who gets to sleep with the body. And you thought your job was rough!

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, I thought I’d comment as I recently visited Aokigahara forest and spent 6 hours exploring it with two friends and three cameras. I compiled most of the video footage + photos along with bits and pieces from my journal to construct the story of my experience there. Please check it out and let me know what you think! (follow the link)
    http://endofthegame.net/2012/02/20/aokigahara/

    ReplyDelete