Aokigahara – The Suicide Forest

Aokigahara - The Suicide Forest

Happy Halloween boys and gores. To celebrate Samhain, how about a little ghost story? This is Aokigahara, also known as Jukai (the Sea of Trees). It is a dense forest set at the base of Mt. Fuji less then 100 miles from Tokyo, Japan. The beauty of the forest and of two caves there in particular have drawn wilderness lovers and explorers from all over the world for many, many years…but, there is another reason Aokigahara is well known to the outside world, one that has forever branded it as the “Suicide Forest”.

One of the first things a visitor to Aokigahara will notice is the silence. Despite the richness of the woods, it is eerily quiet. Very little wildlife is ever seen or heard here because the forest belongs to the dead.

As recent as the late nineteenth century, the people of japan practiced Ubasute, an ancient tradition in which the old and sick were brought into the forest to die of exposure or starvation. The isolation had made it a common place for one to come to end their own lives as well, although it seems that it didn’t become as popular until a book called Kuroi Jukai (The Black Sea of Trees) about a jilted lover committing suicide in the forest.

Just how popular a site? Well, 78 people killed themselves there in 2002. In 2003, 105 bodies were removed from the forest. In 2004, 108 people committed suicide. In 2010, 54 were recovered. Japanese authorities hate to release the official yearly tally of bodies out of fear of creating some kind of suicide competition, to see how many people can kill themselves there. Nobody knows just what it is that draws so many people here to kill themselves. It can’t just be a novel romanticizing the idea of suicide.

Some have speculated that it’s location is a “magic” spot like the Bermuda Triangle that just attracts depressed people to it. The most popular method is by hanging and drug overdose. The person will even go out and buy all brand new hiking boots and camping gear, head on out to the woods and go camping while they reflect on their life and their troubles before gaining the courage to go through with the deed. Possible suicides become apparent when cars have been in the parking lot for days on end, becoming covered in leaves.

It’s a big job trekking through the woods for these potential suicides so there are volunteers who regularly comb the forest looking for bodies. Signs have been placed around the entrances to the forest telling suicidal people to reconsider and to seek help. But it seems to be an unlikely deterrent as people who are in that mindset are not going to be swayed by a sign outside a forest.

The average suicide in Aokigahara is typically middle aged men. The reason for this is speculated that the culture and psychology of the Japanese put much pressure on both men and women to succeed and when they feel that they have failed, especially men who have wives and families, they have no other choice but to off themselves as a way to atone. Suicide is prevalent in Asian countries as an honorable alternative to living as a pariah. This practice goes back centuries in Japan with the Samurai practice of Seppuku.

The cold mists rolling along the paths, the litter and abandoned camps, the random noose still hanging from a moss-covered tree. It is a candidate for the most haunted place on the planet. If you believe in that sort of thing, that is. I prefer to take the side of science and look at things logically. I mean there’s no such thing as…wait, did you hear something?

101 thoughts on “Aokigahara – The Suicide Forest”

    1. I thought the same thing… Single guys with no wife… I re-read above and surprisingly it’s middle aged married guys. The economy in Japan has been pretty shitty for the past 7 years now and the whole ‘Company Man’ thing has gone out the window. No lifetime jobs as was the case since after the war.

      These guys find themselves without a job in their late 30’s and 40’s with zero prospects of landing another career… Many lie to their families until the money runs out and when it does… ‘Honey, I’m going to take a walk in the woods…’ Game over.

      I got popped from a job 2010. Took me near 2 full fucking years to find another..Some pretty awful things go through your head. My ‘salvation’ was a job in the ass-end of Alaska. It at least got me on my feet again. Things OK now but… Damn…. I hope I never face such a thing again

        1. I did the Food Stamp thing. It certainly helped keep me afloat. Hated to do it but, really, without choice. I applied to F’ing Mickey D’s and was rejected… twice. WTF with that… Job I have now I enjoy.. Lots. Would not trade it for my old one even at 3 times the salary. I teach Chemistry in High School and do so on a tropical island… somewhere near ROTA.. my moniker here.

          The cost of that unemployment was a divorce, almost lost my house, the end of my retirement account. I was middle class… now, paycheck to paycheck. Strangely happier for it.

          1. One thing you have to do is get in the habit of saving. Even if it’s only a small amount. Every pay check, take some of that money and put it away in a savings account or some sort of investment. Even small amounts add up over time. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save.

    2. A loving partner? I bet it was the opposite, they lost their loving partner and thats why they commit suicide. If you depend on others, you will never be happy. If you are sad when you are alone, then you in bad company. The only way to be truly happy is to be happy with yourself.

  1. I have been there a few times, it’s a lovely place and very popular with photographers, basically anywhere around Mt Fuji is considered special and has many visitors.

    The silence is caused by the surrounding rock formations blocking wind and I assume the lack of wildlife is caused by that very same topography meaning only small vegetation consumers can survive.

    I personally never came across any bodies but then again I never went too deep into the forests because it is easy to get lost due to everything looking so similar, in fact I did get lost for almost an hour the first time there.

    The signs are funny though, they have them in both English and Japanese asking you to think again and not end your life.

    It is a good place to kill yourself due to the seclusion and natural beauty of the place and the Japanese do like their folklore and historical traditions.

    If I had to say how I felt to be there I would say that I felt sad but at the same time serene and calm. It is an odd feeling being separated entirely from the extremely busy and crowded main cities into utter seclusion within just a short travelling distance, its like crossing an invisible barrier into another world.

  2. sad how many people choose this way to die. hanging yourself will only be worse than the pain you already feel. sure its a morbid sight but if you arent scared youll find a way up a high building and do some massive backflips. instead of hanging by your broken neck untill you die. skyscrapers. if i do myself like that ill make it epic not just a rope and a tree, my life was more than that

  3. Ive read about this forest before, they said that some people who planned to kill themselves leave markings on the trees for when they change their mind they can find their way back, this markings make it easier for volunteers searching for bodies..

  4. That’s so trippy, my aunt was just telling me about this yesterday. She loves stuff about murders, grisly deaths, famous killers, and all that stuff but will not view anything on BestGore. Go figure…

  5. You were born alone, you will die alone, I guess is the thought that goes through these people’s heads. Or possibly “you came from nature, so return to nature and become one with it if you have lost your way”.

    It really is quite a disturbing and sad sight that leaves me speechless beyond words, but I guess it is more peaceful and less frightening then jumping off a bridge,skyscraper,cliff etc. Someday I hope to visit, some nice dark ambient music would fit well with a stroll through these woods.

    1. The healthcare for those with psychiatric problems in japan is almost nonexistent. Coupled with the overall murky dreary days it becomes a cocktail for suicide. It must be agonizing to go through what these poor souls do. Finding somewhere quiet and tranquil, loosely tying a knot around a lone branch, slipping the death brace around one’s own neck, and capitulating into darkness.

  6. … The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep. – Robert Frost

    Maybe if those signs had “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” on them, they would work more effectively.

  7. There’s a good documentary about this place. Somehow I was thinking that it was posted on Best Gore a while back, but I could have seen it elsewhere, I guess. The documentary lacks the gore we all desire, as I recall, but it is worth a view for suicide enthusiasts nonetheless.

    1. I think if you hang yourself right (correct pressure against your carotid artery), you just go unconscious. Thus the idiots who accidentally die of autoerotic asphyxiation. When you’re strung up/dropped and hanged by other people (lynching/execution) it’s agony because you strangle to deah.

    1. Furthermore, I honestly can’t see why people feel so sad at these sights. Not like they’re really bothering people by offing themselves out of their way. The place is known for people who kill themselves, so you couldn’t expect any other sight by going there. They’ve ended their pisshole lives, and now nature will cleanse them of it.

      Somehow, the bones of the deceased seem more pure than us with flesh. It’s when we die that we see the nasty side of who we are, as the flesh bloats and rots off. They’re the better part of who we are.

  8. It’s very strange how people gravitate towards a certain place to end it all. England has Beachy head, a chalk cliff on the south coast. Records of suicides date back for nearly 1400 years and people travel distances to kill themselves there.

    1. Yes mama, Beachy Head has become a real magnet for suicidal folks. I believe there is a daily patrol along the cliff face to look out for potential suicides.
      Reminds me of… The Who…. Love Reign O’er Me.

      1. Apparently the Christian group that patrols Beachy head intervened in more than 266 potential suicides in the year 2011 alone and there is also a ‘suicide telephone box’. Even Lord Lucan’s car was found at Lewes-Beachy head, I’m not saying I think he offed himself but it just shows that choosing that spot would immedietly suggest suicide to the British.

        1. That is a huge number, they must be kept very busy.
          Not buying the Lord Lucan thing, although I see the idea. He buggered off, was assisted in fleeing to some exotic island or other. Wasn’t difficult for someone with his connections.

  9. There is a great documentary on YouTube about this suicide forest. There is a man who’s only job is to comb thru the forest, check on people camping to see if they’re alive and to search for dead bodies. When he finds people still alive he asks them if they’re depressed, and hands them pamphlets for help. He searches abandoned cars, and campsites for clues. What a sad job to have.

  10. There is this place ware I grew up at in MI. It was called Silver Creek.
    It has an evil past. There was a lot of occult activity there. They left all kinds of pentigrams on the ground ware they did rituals there was blood aswell.
    What they sacrifice is unknown. But I did not go out there without a gun or two, day or night.
    I have had some party’s out there in my teenaged years, if you were out there at night, you would feel that something was watching you and had negative intentions towards you! It was in the air….
    It has always had a bad rep.
    A couple of murders have happend out there. Back in the mid 90s. This man had took a girl out there & killed her, burned her then tried to bury Her.
    Then in 2004 it happend again.
    The place ware I was living at one of the neighbor kidnaped a special needs girl took her out to Silver Creek raped her then killed her. Left her out there.
    It has been a camp ground for a very long time while all the craziness was going on.

  11. I too understand what it’s like to be alone. I’ve been a lone wolf since I was 16, now I’m 24. Have social anxiety and constantly awkward around people especially big crowds like shopping malls. I have dentist today and I’m nervous as hell because of waiting in the sitting room with loads of people around me, my heart just just pumps fast because of my social anxiety. But would I go through suicide, no I wouldn’t. Of course i gets thoughts of doing it and imagine my family’s reaction, but I also get constant violent thoughts of harming others that’s another reason I don’t go out because I like acting on them compulsives. rest in peace to all that have fallen in this forest.

  12. After spending the great majority of my life dealing with severe depression i had many close calls in which i almost did it, the feeling of ”preparing oneself” is unexplainable a sense of peace/calmness mixed with adrenaline rushes through you as you get ready to take the final step…. but i was too much of a coward to take the final step.

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