Stranger Things about The Suicide Forest of Japan

by Maure Nava
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View of Mt.,Fuji with Aokigahara Forest


  • What is the history behind it?
  • Where is the Aokigahara forest located?
  • Strangest Thing about Aokigahara
  • Into the Aokigahara

Are you wondering what is written on the board in the below picture?

Aokigahara Forest
Entrance to the Suicide Forest of Japan

Think carefully about your children, your family,” and “Your life is a precious gift from your parents” is what it says.

You find this board at the entrance of the Aokigahara, the so-called Suicide Forest of Japan. Let me ease this for you. It’s au-kee-guh-haa-ruh.

Forest Aokigahara is a beautiful place with the greenest trees and moss-covered lava rocks. But the past events, along with the myths, rumours, and sensations, have portrayed the forest differently. There is a portrayal that Aokigahara gulps the souls. I sense the questions piling up in your mind about the forest. So, without further ado, let’s explore a little.

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Before we jump into it, I just want to say that every problem has a solution. A slight change in our perspectives will help us untangle the issues. If ever suicide crosses your mind, do talk to a friend. Suicide is never the answer; there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Aokigahara Forest Japan
The Aokigahara land is covered with knotted roots of the trees.

What does ‘Aokigahara’ mean in the first place? Aokigahara means ‘Sea of Trees’ because the forest is abundant with unique trees and dense vegetation. The high density allows very little light and wind inside the forest. So, there is always a strange stillness that makes the forest silent and frightening. Its nature answers the stories and myths about the forest.

Suicide is a serious issue in Japan

What is the history behind it?

Aokigahara is the forest in Japan where everyone kills themselves – a bit of an exaggeration. Yet, it is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide after the Golden Gate Bridge.

According to recorded history, Aokigahara was where monks would go to starve themselves to death. 

Japanese folklore tells us that the ghosts of those who have committed suicide just wander in the forest.

Mythology says it is the home of the Yūrei, the Japanese ghosts.

Japan’s most famous writer, Seicho Matsumoto, commended the Aogihara forest in his novel “Tower of Waves” in 1960 as the romanticized setting for suicide by a pair of young lovers. Since then, the forest started appearing in novels, movies and even in dramas as a suicide site. So the portrayal has been built up this way. And now Aogihara stands with its dark reputation.

Aokigahara Forest Japan
A Small Shrine in the Forest

Where is the Aokigahara forest located?

Aokigahara is situated on the northwest edge of Mount Fuji, the highest mountain peak in Japan. The area of this forest is about 35 sq. km. And how to get to Aokigahara Forest? It is less than two hours by car from Tokyo, Japan’s capital.

Suicides of Aokigahara

About 103 bodies were found in the suicide forest of Japan in 2003, severely decomposed or eaten by wild animals.

As per the records, about 103 bodies were found in the suicide forest of Japan in 2003, severely decomposed or eaten by wild animals.

As per the records, about 103 bodies were found in the suicide forest of Japan in 2003, severely decomposed or eaten by wild animals. Nerve-Wracking Dark Tourism Destination

And then, to discourage suicide, the Japanese government stopped releasing the number of bodies found. The Japanese authorities work their best to prevent suicides in the forest and erase the dark reputation by

  • posting security cameras at the entrances of the forest to track those who walk inside
  • increasing police patrolling at the entrances of the forest
  • training volunteers to talk to potentially suicidal visitors
  • discouraging movies and TV shows that might promote the forest’s reputation as a place to end one’s life.

Speaking of the animals Aokigahara, has Asian black bears, boar, foxes, small Japanese mole, mice, deer, and much more.

The records of the interviews with the Aokigahara suicide survivors say that they believed they would be able to die not alone and die successfully without being noticed.

There is a myth that the dead bodies must not be left alone in Aokigahara because it is bad luck for the spirits of the dead. So forest workers bring the corpses to the local police station and keep them in a particular room for further procedures.

Aokigahara Forest Japan
Lake Saiko Bat Cave in the Aokigahara Forest

Strangest Thing about Aokigahara

It’s easy to get lost in the forest, and extremely difficult to find your way out. Because,

  • Mobile phones or any modern technology devices lose signals and fail to work.
  • Compasses act abnormally and show the wrong direction.

But why? The forest is composed of volcanic rock, cooled lava from Mount Fuji’s ancient eruption, forming its unique landscape.Therefore, there are rich deposits of magnetic ions in the volcanic soil in the area. It affects the devices, as the studies say.

Into the Aokigahara
Hiking into Aokigahara
Tourists strolling through Aokigahara Forest

After all, many people visit Aokigahara for hiking and adventures and to watch the breathtaking view of Mount Fuji, and it is worth it.

Here are some don’ts to keep in mind

  • Do not go alone.
  • Do not go in the night.
  • Plastic tapes are a must for marking your path and finding your way back if lost, despite well-marked visitor pathways.
  • Stay on the path and follow signs diligently due to the presence of wild animals. Getting back on track if lost is challenging.
Related Article

Aokigahara sounds strange, creepy simultaneously, and beautiful in a way. Does it not? Aokigahara is just another wild and beautiful forest with serene silence. Ultimately, it’s our minds and intentions and how we address the Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest of Japan. Do we even want to call it that way anymore?

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