Aokigahara Forest (Japanese: 青木ヶ原), also known as the Sea of Trees (樹海 Jukai), is a forest on the northwestern flank of Japan's Mount Fuji thriving on 30 square kilometers (12 sq mi) of hardened lava. The forest has been nicknamed ‘Suicide Forest’ given the number of suicides that have been determined to occur at this location. Other names include 'Cursed Forest' and 'Black Forest'.
The Suicide Forest grew up on top of an old lava flow. The ground is uneven and deceptive. Often you will take a step onto something that looks firm only to find yourself tripping as your footfalls into one of the many holes on the forest floor. There are many small caves scattered about. The forest is dense and forms canopies over the forest floor. This canopy blocks the wind, and, with no insects or wildlife around, the forest is eerily quiet.
- The Yūrei
Aokigahara has been associated with death and evil spirits, known as Yūrei, in ancient Japanese folklore. An old Japanese tradition of ubasute was said to have been practiced where the elderly and the sick were carried into the forest and left to die. Their angry spirits, (Yūrei), haunt the forest encouraging suicidal people, who enter, to carry out their terrible urge to die.
The Japanese believe that if a person dies a sudden, unnatural or violent death (such as suicide), the spirit will turn into a Yūrei. If a body is not properly buried, or if a person dies with strong, negative feelings such as depression or rage, then the spirit will turn into a Yūrei. There are a lot of angry spirits in this forest.
People who have hiked through this forest have described themselves as feeling panicky and say it feels like the trees are trying to engulf them. Since the 1950’s, over 500 people have committed suicide in Aokigahara. And the body count is increasing each year.
You will find lots of plastic ribbons (like police tape) snaking through the forest. The people who go into the forest thinking about suicide but are not certain they will go through with it will leave these ribbons as trails to follow back out of the forest. The majority of suicides hang themselves; the others overdose on pills.
At least once a year, the local people and the Forest Rangers go into the forest to search for bodies. They call it the Body Hunt. These searchers have reported hearing high pitched screams and wailing in this otherwise silent forest. Tourists who brave the woods take pictures and videos showing mists and orbs.
There are signs posted in Japanese and in English trying to get people to reconsider their actions. “Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Please think about your parents, siblings and children. Don’t keep it to yourself. Talk about your troubles. Please contact the Suicide Prevention Association”