If I throw “Aokigahara” at you, it probably won’t mean much to you, but if I mention the “suicide forest”, there’s a chance you’ve heard of it before. Inevitably, a Japanese forest known to be one of the places where there are the most suicides in the world, it’s a bit chilling, and it intrigues everyone. But do you really know all the details that make this place really creepy? Maybe not. So it’s time to fix it. Sensitive souls, you have normally already understood that this top was not for you.
1. Nearly 100 people per year take their own lives in Aokigahara
That’s about 2 a week, which is quite simply one of the highest rates in the world. But why do people decide to end their lives in this forest at the foot of Mount Fuji which is nevertheless rather not gross? That, I will tell you just below. I maintain the suspense.
2. A book from 1959 is said to have started this trend
The book is Nami no to, written by Seicho Matsumoto. The author tells the story of two lovers whose love is impossible who come to commit suicide in the forest of Aokigahara. The place is then described as an ideal place to disappear without being found, and this is probably what led dozens of people to come and kill themselves there in the years following the publication of the book. It’s a big responsibility as an author anyway.
3. A second book returned the cover in 1993
And there, the causal link is even more obvious, since it is about the book of Wataru Tsurumi entitled Kanzen jisatsu manyuaru. What, you don’t understand Japanese? Well ok, I translate, it means: “Complete instructions for suicide”. The author explains that Aokigahara is a perfect place to end one’s life, and that obviously inspired a lot of people. In the years since the book’s release, the suicide rate has skyrocketed in the area, and a copy of Wataru Tsurumi’s manual is still regularly found next to the corpses.
4. People are paid to prevent suicides
In Aokigahara, rangers regularly patrol to prevent further suicides. They are paid for this and other things, which makes this job a particularly disturbing job. It’s probably not the kind of career you imagine doing when you’re a kid.
5. Signs are everywhere to prevent people from committing suicide
On the signs, you can read things like: “Life is a precious gift from your parents” or “Please think of your surroundings, your friends”, just to dissuade those who are still reluctant to take action. It’s a good thing to have these panels installed, but it’s again quite creepy.
6. Many think the forest is haunted
Well, we’re used to people thinking of a haunted place, but the story that goes with Aokigahara is particularly freaky. It is said that in the forest the ghosts ofubasute. And the ubasute, according to Japanese folklore, it is old people who have come to be lost in the forest so that they die, and thus avoid having too many mouths to feed at home. Their spirit would attract walkers off the beaten track so that they in turn get lost and die in the forest. Not super reassuring.
7. Many use ribbons to find their bodies
There are quite a few plastic ribbons used in Aokigahara Forest. Some serve as breadcrumb trails for walkers who want to go deep into the forest with the certainty of being able to retrace their steps, and others are unrolled by those who want to commit suicide. In this second case, the ribbon is used so that other people can find their body and bury it. So if you come across a ribbon in the forest, only attempt to follow it if you’re psychologically prepared to face death (and notify the authorities to deal with the corpse, of course).
8. Forest floor wrecks electronics
Aokigahara’s soil is loaded with iron, which would disturb compasses, but also electronic devices such as GPS, telephones and other cameras. And for once, there’s absolutely nothing paranormal, so even the most rational among you should be wary before entering this dangerous forest. If you get lost, it will be quite difficult to find your way back.
9. Sometimes the bodies found are those of people who got lost
Direct consequences of the previous point, it happens that hikers do not find their way and die of hunger or thirst in the forest (which is one of the worst possible deaths). We therefore find not only suicides, but also unlucky ones who had not prepared their expedition well enough. And that’s even sadder.