Aokigahara is 13.5 miles northwest of Mount Fuji. It’s a forest so dense with leaves that it’s called the “sea of trees.” Many people walk into the sea of trees without any intention of returning and mark the place as their resting site. The forest is infamously also known as the “Japanese Suicide Forest”.
For some, the forest acts as a rich hiking spot, with its unrivaled beauty and serenity. There are plenty of rough and tough locations with high trees, roots with rocky paths. Mount Fuji is also clearly visible through the forest. The whole trees are laid out on the volcanic rock and cooled down lava.
Aokigahara is an extremely eerie place, and a small whisper sounds like a roar in the forest. Although there are not any exact reports to the public, some say that there are almost 100 suicides on the forest annually.
Aokigahara The Infamous Japanese Suicide Forest
Even though the forest is infamous for a lot of things, it isn’t bad to get to know the forest more. So, here are 15 interesting facts about Aokigahara:
1. The most infamous suicide forest in the world with the highest deaths.
The forest spans up to 30 square kilometers, so it isn’t that easy to scout the entire forest. Thus, many bodies still go undiscovered. Statistics about Aokigahara’s suicide rate can vary. According to some estimates, up to 100 people die in the forest annually.
2. Suicide has a long history in Japan
Suicide is deeply rooted in Japanese history. You might have heard of the term “seppuku” in Japanese movies and anime. The honorable suicide rule of seppuku, from samurai, dates back to Japan’s feudal period. Although no one practices such a horrifying tradition, it still imprints on culture.
3. Japan has a high rate of suicide.
The 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent economic instability seem to have caused a 15% rise in suicides in Japan. According to Japan Times in 2011, the suicide prevention hotline’s executive director, “callers most often cite mental illness and family problems as reasons for considering suicide.” Other issues can also be cited, like financial difficulties or job loss.
Sources said that the maximum number of deaths in youths is the reason for suicide in a study conducted in 2021.
4. The government has tried setting up strategies for suicide prevention in Aokigahara.
These plans were designed to decrease Japan’s suicide rate by 20% over the next seven years. These measures included installing security cameras at Aokigahara’s entrance and increasing patrols. Police and locals have tagged signs along the forest’s path with messages like “Your life from your parents is precious,” or to not forget about your family, children, etc.
5. Aokigahara forest is itself scary and eerie.
The forest has high trees with long roots and vines weaving all around the forest. The ground is uneven and rocky because it sits at the base of a mountain. There are hundreds of caves. More striking than the tricky terrain is the sense of stillness. The trees are so densely packed that light barely perforated through the thick trees. Wildlife is also extremely sparse in the region.
6. Most people in Japan commit suicide by hanging.
According to a 2004 study, jumping from high places is the second most popular method. To reduce suicide attempts, the government has raised the height of Aokigahara’s bridge railings.
7. Bestselling books over the country have marked Aokigahara as the perfect suicide destination
Seicho Matsumoto, the mystery author, wrote Tower of Waves in 1960. The story featured a protagonist who died in the forest. The infamous text “Complete Manual Of Suicide” from Wataru Tsurumi in 1993 also states that Aokigahara is the perfect place to end life.
8. The mythos of the suicide forest may be related to Ubasute.
Ubasute refers to a form of euthanasia that roughly translates to “abandoning an old woman.” This practice, which is often used in times of crisis, allows a family to reduce the number of hungry people by sending an elderly relative to a mountain to starve or die. Many believe ubasute is a folklore product, possibly connected to the Aokigahara.
9. It is possible that the suicide forest may be haunted.
Some locals believe that Youkai or Yurei, of those who died in the forest or due to Ubasute, wander around the woods. Folklore says they are vicious and dedicated to torturing visitors and luring those who are lost and sad off the paths.
10. Since 1970, locals and police have held annual body searches for the dead.
Volunteers help patrol the area, retrieve the dead’s remains, and provide them with a proper burial. Each year, 70-100 people’s remains are found in the forest. The Japanese government has been reluctant to release the actual number of bodies found during the searches.
11. A tent brought into Aokigahara is sure to draw attention.
Although camping is permitted in the area, police consider those who bring tents to be contemplating suicide. Those who stay longer than a day are thought to be considering their options. Campers will be encouraged to leave the forest by those on patrol.
12. Some visitors use tape to mark their way through the suicide forest, which is densely populated with trees.
Volunteers searching for bodies or those contemplating suicide often mark their route by attaching plastic ribbons to trees. This prevents searchers from losing their way after they go off paths.
13. You may not be able to call for assistance in Aokigahara.
The forest soil in Aokigahara contains an extreme supply of magnetic materials, which disrupts cell service, GPS, and sometimes even compasses. So even on a hike or tour, there’s a high chance that you might not be able to get a hold of emergency services. Thus the volunteers use the old fashion plastic tapes.
14. While the forest is infamous for suicide, some go there for tourism.
Residents lament the dreadful reputation that peaceful forests have earned. The forest has a great tourism aspect, but the suicides haven’t helped it prosper. There are 300-year-old trees, lava plateau, natural landscapes, and tons of exploration available.
15. Do not take the wrong path through the suicide forest.
There are many disturbing images on the internet about the suicide forest. These include photos of human bones and abandoned personal items. Do not venture into this mysterious place without first consulting the signs.