Sunday, February 7, 2010

Suicide in the Sea of Trees

Taking a short break from posting photos to share another mysterious & spooky story... welcome, to Aokigahara Forest...

Aokigahara Forest lies in the shadow of Mount Fuji, in Japan. This dense, dark, beautiful forest is known as the Sea Of Trees... a rustic woods wild with volcanic rock and twisted vines.

It is also a place where countless suicidal souls have perished... you see, Aokigahara Forest is also the world's most popular suicide site after the Golden Gate Bridge.

Strangely, hundreds of people have died in Aokigahara Forest since the 1950's. Most are attributed to suicide, and most of the suicides are by hanging. The popularity of Aokigahara as a suicide spot began to soar even higher 33 years ago, after the publication of a novel called Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees), in which two doomed lovers take their own lives in the shadowy forest.

Some get lost forever in it's depths... compasses do not work here, and the overhanging canopy of trees is disorienting, it is very easy to lose ones way. Many of those that explore the forest for the sake of thrills or nature have been known to come across decaying remains, sometimes still dangling from their nooses. Photos taken at the site are chilling, showing grisly tableaus of bodies hanging from trees or lying on the ground, some still decaying, some nothing more than bones, all surrounded by scattered personal effects left behind (some of those photos can be see here, but they are GRAPHIC and contain images of dead bodies- you have been warned!!)

Suicide has become epidemic in Japan, but the especially-high rate of suicide in Aokigahara has prompted officials to post signs throughout the forest, with messages such as, "Think calmly once again about them, your siblings and your children", "Don't agonise over problems yourself - please seek counselling" and "Your life is a precious gift from your parents"

Despite these measures, the ever-climbing toll of bodies in the forest prompted an annual body search which began in '71; once a year, hundreds of police, journalists, and volunteer firefighters comb through the trees in search of the dead. In 2002 alone, 78 bodies were found (overtaking the previous record of 73 bodies in '98)

So many bodies come out of Aokigahara that the three villages bordering it are posed with a heavy financial burden. By law, they are required to dispose of the countless unidentified dead in their jurisdiction, and they also face a challenging lack of storage space for all of the unclaimed bodies that come out of the forest.

Police patrols have been set up around the forest to try and stop these suicidal souls as they enter Aokigahara, but tragically, some always slip through...

In the controversial bestseller, 'The Complete Manual of Suicide', author Wataru Tsurumui declares the Sea Of Trees as "The perfect place to die."

Some of the suicides in
Aokigahara have been found carrying copies of the book.

Below, footage from research for a Swedish documentary about Aokigahara forest, and you can really see how deep and dark this strange forest is.


redlight915 said...

crazy stuff

Pandorah's Box said...

Wow. That chilled me to the bone.

It's sad.

Shady said...

Thanks RL :)

It is sad, Kato, and so strange.... before the suicides started, back in the 19th century, I read that the forest was used by the poor villagers, who couldn't afford burials, they'd just bring the bodies there. Also, horribly, they sometimes left those who were already dying (the elderly, sick babies) there. So there's always been some morbid kind of draw to that forest I guess. Strange, spooky, & sad...