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Exploring the Darker Side of Everything

Aokigahara: The Japanese Suicide Forest

Written by Matt Granda

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aokigahara_and_Misaka_Mountains.JPG

Known as “The Sea of Trees,” Aokigahara is a massive forest on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji on the island of Honshu in Japan.

The forest is extremely dense and if one isn’t careful, it would be very easy to get lost among the endless horizon of trees.

An uninformed observer could be mistaken in believing that this is a tranquil place, one to be admired for its beauty, so much so that people have been known to attempt camping inside the forest several times a year.

A lush ocean of green leaves and strong branches, the unique terrain the result of a volcanic eruption from Mt. Fuji in 824 CE, much of the ground being hardened magma.

There’s even a lovely cave by the name of Narusawa Ice Cave that stays frozen year round at a temperature of 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, Aokigahara has a much darker nature, one that affects many of the people of the Land of the Rising Sun all year long.

The Sea of Trees has another name, a much more ominous name: The Suicide Forest

Dead Woods

https://flic.kr/p/hxWHV7

As you walk up to the edge of Aokigahara, and you haven’t been stopped by authorities on your way, you’ll notice something rather quickly.

All along the edge of the woods and several times once you’ve breached the treeline, you would see a number of signs, each one of them emblazoned with words that are meant to dissuade the reader from entering and following through with their intended purpose.

The reason for these signs is as plain as the reason the forest has its grotesque nickname, and that is because every year countless people enter the forest of Aokigahara and they never come back out.

Hundreds of people each year walk into the Suicide Forest in order to end their lives, most commonly through the method of hanging themselves from the thick branches of the tall trees.

Hanging isn’t the only way that people end it all within the woods, as corpses have been found with signs of overdoing and poisonings found in their bodies and on their person.

Sadly there’s many suicide victims whos bodies are never found, they simply walk so deep into the dark forest and no trace of them can be found.

In that vein, it’s difficult to conclude the exact number of people who have taken their own lives within Aokigahara, but those that are found suggest that it is disturbingly high, with the number of bodies found in the year 2003 alone being as high as 105.

In 2010, it was reported that over 200 people had attempted suicide while within the forest, 54 having succeeded in their task.

Even if you were to enter the forest and not see a dead body, there are little signs of the poor unfortunate souls scattered all around, with countless personal effects littering the forest floor of suicides past.

The dark history of Aokigahara has been blamed on the 1961 novel Nami no Tō (Tower of Waves) by Seicho Matsumoto, but deaths within the forest have been recorded as far back as the nineteenth century, as the practice of senicide within The Sea of Trees during that time is well documented.

The Haunted Forest

https://flic.kr/p/PoGfKr

A place such as Aokigahara obviously has several spooky connotations surrounding it.

There’s even a season for suicide it seems, with most of the deaths taking place in March which is when the Japanese fiscal year ends, the average age of male suicides in Japan being between 20 and 44 years old.

The denseness of the forest and the hardened magma composition of the ground leaves the forests virtually soundless, only adding to the creepy vibes, and once someone reaches half a mile into the woods, nearly all traces of humanity and civilization become practically nonexistent, the density of the woods making it easy to get lost.

Legends and stories of course have cropped up over the years in Japan, the idea of the agonized spirits of the suicide victims lingering within and haunting the bleak woods.

There’s even talk about the Tengu, a half man half bird demon of japanese legend, residing within Aokigahara, along with a medley of other demonic spirits.

Compasses also have the tendency to go heywire while inside the Sea of Trees and while this can easily be put down to the high iron content within the solidified lava forest floor throwing off the magnetism of the tool, many still put it down to paranormal activity.

Logan Paul

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logan_Paul_(48086760546).jpg

The Suicide Forest has been referenced in several forms of media such as songs, books, video games, and movies such as 47 Ronin, The Forest, and Sea of Trees, the former two being specifically based on the ominous forest.

However it wasn’t until a global youtube superstar created a controversial video for his channel that Aokigahara really was thrust into the spotlight.

Logan Paul is one of the most famous Youtubers of all time, being a social media influencer, podcaster, actor, rapper, boxer, and most recently professional wrestler.

He has 23 million subscribers to his Youtube channel as of January 2022 and has been running his podcast, Impaulsive, since November 2018.

He has had his naysayers in the past, but those voices got even louder and for good reason as December 31 of 2007 rolled around.

On that day Logan Paul, in a move that has been called callus and despicable, uploaded a video within the Suicide Forest.

He’s stated within the video and afterwards that the intent was to create a ghost hunting experience in regards to the tales of the forest being haunted from the spirits of passed suicide victims.

He most likely never imagined that he and his friends would actually come across a dead body.

However, that’s exactly what occurred as while in the forest, Logan and his crew came across the recently deceased body of a Japanese man.

His crew proceeded to call the police, but they kept the camera rolling, all the while showing the body and even face of the deceased man.

Paul was crucified in the media for the inhuman act of continuing to film the body and, even if it was in a state of shock and disbelief, his almost joking attitude at some points in the video, having laughed more than once while still on the scene.

Logan has since apologized publicly and provided at least some form of explanation for that day.

He said he wished to raise awareness of suicide while in the forest, and even though its objectively insensitive what he did, his reputation, while having certainly suffered, has managed to improve once more to a degree.

However, the cloud of that stupid mistake on that dark day will likely haunt him for the rest of his life.

Some enraged comments even went so far as to tell Logan to kill himself, the painful irony.

Sad Acceptance

Photo by Soumen Maity: https://www.pexels.com/photo/japan-suicide-forest-634770/

Aokigahara is the second most visited suicide location in the world, the first being the Golden Gate Bridge, and sadly it will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Searches are done yearly for the bodies of those who have ended it all within the wood and if a body is discovered outside of one of these annual searches, it’s up to forest workers to go in and remove the corpse.

However, so many bodies are found every year that the government has actually stopped publishing the actual number of victims found in an attempt to dissuade people from traveling there, and the bodies are simply stored in a special room at their facility to be collected by their next of kin or simply disposed of.

At the end of the day, it seems that it doesn’t matter how many measures are put in place, it doesn’t matter how many signs are erected, it doesn’t matter how many horror stories are told about the infamous woods.

Aokigahara, The Sea of Trees, The Suicide Forest, will remain a site of death, depression, sadness, and misery, for as long as the trees stand and as long as the darkness within the minds of the Japanese people compel them to to the base of Mt. Fuji…to end it all.

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