Aokigahara, otherwise known as Japan’s Suicide Forest, has been a hot topic of conversation in recent years, particularly after YouTuber Logan Paul posted a controversial video of a suicide victim found in the forest in 2017. However, Aokigahara’s notoriety hardly began with Paul’s presence—in fact, the Suicide Forest has been a popular destination for decades, both for avid hikers and those intent upon taking their own lives. If Aokigahara isn’t on your must-visit list, we’ve rounded up 33 things to know about Japan’s Suicide Forest, from the tragic to the downright terrifying. So read on, and feel those goosebumps rise. And if you enjoy that tingling feeling on the back of your neck, see these 30 Crazy Facts about Life That May Freak You out a Little.
Up to 105 Bodies Are Found in the Forest Each Year
While the density of the trees and the often-treacherous terrain in Aokigahara make it hard to determine an exact number of suicides in the forest, the number of dead bodies that are found is shockingly high. In 2003 alone, 105 bodies were found in the forest.
Aokigahara is the World’s Second Most Popular Suicide Destination
While with a nickname like “Suicide Forest,” it seems like Aokigahara is a hugely popular suicide spot, it’s actually not the biggest suicide destination in the world. The Suicide Forest is said to be the second most common destination for suicides, with the Golden Gate Bridge taking the number one spot.
The Forest’s Popularity Is Attributed to One Book
The popularity of the forest as a destination for the suicidal has increased since the publication of Nami no Tō (Tower of Waves) by Seichō Matsumoto in 1961. However, while the book may have boosted the forest’s notoriety, people were coming to Aokigahara for decades before the book’s release.
It’s Reportedly Haunted
Unsurprisingly, Aokigahara is reportedly haunted. The forest is reportedly inhabited by yurei, or ghosts with unfinished business who are unable to enjoy peace in the afterlife. If you’re looking for ghosts closer to home, set your sights on these 15 Most Haunted Places in America.
There Are Other Spirits Lurking There, Too
Of course, a place dubbed “the Suicide Forest” wouldn’t be home to just one kind of spirit. Aokigahara is also reportedly home to Tengu, a mythical Japanese bird demon, in addition to spirits of the human variety.
About Half a Mile Into the Forest, Traces of Human Life Disappear
While the entry points to the forest bear ample debris left by human visitors, the expanses of forest following them are so thick and isolated they look virtually untouched. In fact, less than a mile into the forest, signs that hikers have been there start to disappear.
There’s a “Suicide Season”
While spring may bring about warmer weather, it’s also peak suicide season at Aokigahara. Suicides in the forest and throughout Japan tend to peak in March, which is when the country’s fiscal year ends.
Compasses Tend to Behave Strangely in the Forest
While many people attribute the strange behavior of their compasses to paranormal activity in the forest, there’s actually a more logical explanation. Because of the high iron content of the lava on the forest floor, devices that respond to magnetism, like compasses, often move in strange patterns when near it.
Hanging Isn’t the Only Way People Die in the Forest
While hanging is the method of suicide most commonly associated with trips to Aokigahara, it’s not the only way people end their lives there. In fact, the forest is the site of many self-induced poisonings and overdoses, as well.
The Forest Is So Dense It’s Easy to Get Lost In
The forest’s density makes it easy to get lost in. Combined with the malfunctioning compasses, this can make it difficult for visitors to find their way out.
Many Suicide Victims Are Never Found
Although some hikers will discover dead bodies during their trips through the Suicide Forest, not every victim will be found. The forest’s density and difficult navigation make it impossible for every body to be located.
It Sits on a Lava Field
Aokigahara’s unique terrain is the result of the eruption of Mount Fuji in 864 CE. Many of the pathways in the forest are made of hardened lava.
Aokigahara is Referenced in Countless Forms of Media
The Suicide Forest is so well-known that it’s frequently referenced in books, games, songs, and other media. The forest’s worldwide notoriety has even given rise to mentions in countless popular films, including 47 Ronin, The Forest, and Gus Van Sant’s 2015 Sea of Trees, featuring Matthew McConaughey.
Annual Searches Are Conducted to Look for New Bodies
Because of Aokigahara’s popularity, annual searches are held to look for new bodies. Made up of local law enforcement, forest workers, and volunteers, the searches are generally conducted before the holidays.
Forest Workers Are Tasked With Removing the Bodies
If a body is found in the forest, forest workers are responsible for removing it.
People Frequently Try to Camp in the Forest
Many people camping in the forest will be approached by suicide prevention patrols. Many assume that campers in the forest are undecided about whether or not to take their own lives, so they’re routinely checked in on—if they’re found, that is.
The Bodies Are Kept In a Special Room
According to one source, the bodies are held in a special room guarded by forest workers until they are collected or properly disposed of. In many cases, forest workers will stay overnight with the corpses.
People Travel From Far and Wide to Die Here
A recent government report claims that between 2013 and 2015 alone, more than 100 people who weren’t from the areas directly surrounding Aokigahara killed themselves in the forest.
The Local Government Has Stopped Publishing Suicide Numbers
The local government has made valiant efforts to discourage visitors of Aokigahara from committing suicide. One way in which they attempted to do this was by halting the publication of annual data reporting the number of suicide victims found in the forest.
Countless Suicide Prevention Measures Have Been Implemented
In addition to frequent patrols of the forest, the local government has implemented anti-suicide measures, including teaching volunteers how to talk to suicidal visitors to the forest and raising railings on bridges to dissuade jumping.
Its Name Translates to “Sea of Trees”
The name by which Aokigahara is known locally, jukai, means “sea of trees.” It is referred to as such because of the forest’s density.
The Forest Contains a Naturally-Frozen Cave
Inside the Aokigahara forest, you’ll find the Narusawa Ice Cave, a popular tourist attraction. This cave, which remains frozen year-round, has an average temperature of just 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit all year.
Even Advanced Hikers Are Advised to Stick to the Trails
Think you’re an advanced enough hiker to leave the trails and navigate Aokigahara alone? Think again. Even experienced hikers are cautioned against going off on their own, and many leave tape on trees along the way to ensure they can follow the same path out of the forest.
The Forest Is Full of Butterflies
While many hikers may not see evidence of animal or insect life in the forest, it’s there. In fact, Aokigahara is home to more than nine species of butterfly.
The Forest is Eerily Silent
Because of the density of the trees and the lava floor, the forest is surprisingly quiet. In fact, many people claim that screams are virtually undetectable in the forest.
Aokigahara Is Home to a Famous Bat Cave
The Lake Sai Bat Cave, located inside a lava tunnel, is the largest cave in Aokigahara. It is over 1268 feet long and serves as one of the forest’s more popular tourist destinations.
YouTuber Logan Paul Was Removed from Google Preferred After a Video Shot in the Forest
Logan Paul may have introduced many of his fans to the Suicide Forest, but his video taken in Aokigahara had some serious repercussions for the YouTube star. After posting his video depicting a dead body in the forest, numerous sponsors stopped working with him and he lost his Google Preferred status with YouTube.
The Forest is Littered With Personal Items
While you may not encounter a dead body in the Suicide Forest, that doesn’t mean you won’t find hints that they were there. In fact, the forest is full of personal items left by people who committed suicide there.
Aokigahara Sits at the Base of Mythically-Significant Mount Fuji
Aokigahara isn’t the only local attraction full of mythological lore. Mount Fuji, at the base of which Aokigahara is located, is the mythological home to gods Ninigi and his wife, goddess Konohanasaykuya-hime.
The Forest Is Home to Limited Wildlife
Despite the relatively large and secluded area it occupies and the density of its plant life, Aokigahana isn’t home to a huge variety of native animals. However, the animals that do call the forest home include foxes, deer, rabbits, squirrels, minks, mice, moles, and the Asian black bear.
But Scavengers Frequently Visit
Scavenging animals are not an uncommon sight in Aokigahana. Unfortunately, many suicide victims’ bodies are found by scavengers before they’re discovered by forest workers.
The Forest is Thought to Be the Site for Numerous Cases of Ubasute
In addition to the numerous suicides that take place in Aokigahara, it’s also rumored to be the site of numerous abandonments, as well. However, there’s little evidence that ubasute, the practice of leaving an older or unwell person to die somewhere remote, has ever been common in Japan.
It’s Full of Anti-Suicide Warning Signs
Due to the forest’s worldwide reputation as a destination for the suicidal, it’s full of signs suggesting people reconsider. In fact, at the entrance of many of Aokigahara trails, you can find signs suggesting you consider your loved ones or get help from a suicide prevention association before taking your life. One sign common throughout the forest reads, “Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Think about them and the rest of your family. You don’t have to suffer alone.” And if you’re worried someone in your life might be struggling with suicidal thoughts, make sure you know these Ways Your Loved One May Be Hiding Their Depression.
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