Saturday, June 26, 2010


The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Due to the wind-blocking density of the trees, and an absence of wildlife, the forest is also known for being eerily quiet. The forest, which has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, is a popular place for suicide.

There are a variety of unofficial trails that are used semi-regularly for the annual "body hunt" done by local volunteers, who mark their search areas with plastic tape. The plastic tape is never removed, so a great deal of it litters the first kilometer of the forest, past the designated trails leading to tourist attractions such as the Ice Cave and Wind Cave. After the first kilometer into Aokigahara towards Mount Fuji, the forest is in a much more pristine state, with little to no litter and few obvious signs of human contact.

The forest is reportedly the world's second most popular suicide location after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. This popularity is often attributed to the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai 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 (see prior Weird Weekly Wiki on Ubastue - Josh)was practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of those left to die.

Since the 1950s, more than 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides, with an average of approximately 30 counted yearly. In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998. In 2003 the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging those who have gone there in order to commit suicide to seek help and not kill themselves.