Thursday 1st of December, 2011 (around about 11 20 am)
[The cave] was dark and full of sharp rocks and blunt boulders, it reminded me of an abandoned mineshaft. A cheery Japanese woman’s voice (sounded like the TV presenter in Battle Royale) was playing on loop over a speaker jammed somewhere in the rocky ceiling. Her voice echoed in the caves and was very creepy. We crawled through a really tight crawling space and reached a dead end – some cave. The rocks were very sharp and I kept thinking about worst case scenarios, like how shit it would be if we were caved in from behind and had no choice but to die here. We hurried out of the cave as there was not much to see or do and our imaginations were getting too loose – as we were surfacing from the cave’s cavey depths I imagined lava coming out of hiding and bubbling after us. Once we got out of that god forsaken cave, I breathed in a lungful of fresh air and panned my vision across the forest which greeted us; the trees smiled and waved hello. A forest trail was just up ahead, its many signs claimed that it would eventually lead us to the Ice Cave after 1.5 km. We trusted the signs, my only hope was that the Ice Cave actually had ice in it.
About halfway through the trail Dave noticed a white ribbon heading into the forest, without saying a word we all knew that it was probably leading to a suicide spot, so Dave and I decided to follow it. Josh didn’t feel up to it – he looked very uncomfortable – and told us he would push on and try to make it to the cave and then go home, he told us he had seen enough even though we had only been in the forest for 5 minutes. A pool of apprehension built up inside of me and shot waves of worry throughout my body. We were venturing towards the unknown, with knowledge that we were splitting up from Josh, could easily get lost, and would likely experience something dark, and I was beginning to doubt whether I was ready for the experience. ‘What if I saw something that would change me forever’, is a thought that was blinking in my head at this point. Despite these thoughts we found ourselves walking, as though we were a cart on tracks, deep into the forest’s belly without a map or compass (apparently they don’t work in Aokigahara anyway) and using nothing but our gut instincts and the white ribbon to guide our route. This eventually became more and more difficult as the forest was completely littered in red, white and blue tape. We were traveling in the heart of Japan’s winter and it was about -2 or -3 degrees, it was raining and very cold. I was smoking cigarettes to keep myself warm and was finding it hard to breathe.
I remember it being very difficult to walk through the forest as there were parts where there was no flat ground, despite the illusion that there was, it was as though the floor was booby trapped as it was covered in sticks and leaves, but underneath were holes and crevices sometimes knee deep, and so I found myself falling into holes in the ground quite frequently. We were walking very quickly as though we were in a hurry to get somewhere, and we finally reached the end of the ribbon. (Note: As you can see in the video I was filming the floor the whole time in case I fell into a hole, we didn’t even look at Josh and acknowledge he wasn’t coming with us, he was spooked, and I was right on edge for some reason; it was almost like we were being pulled into the forest, believe it or not). We stood facing two tall trees, each one had a white arrow on it pointing in opposite directions. David walked west, and I walked east (Note: we had no compass so I don’t know why I wrote east and west in my journal, just sounded like a cool thing to say I guess). We couldn’t really see each other, but at least we were still within shouting distance. I reached my marker (we had decided upon them before we split up) and looked around nervously. David called out my name and told me to check out what he saw, his voice had traces of worry in it. A lump formed in my throat as I pictured him happening upon a fresh body. I took a step forward and terror washed over me as I realised I had been standing on a grave site the whole time, I froze like a helpless animal spotted by a leopard in the open savannah. I scanned the spot and saw an old umbrella, a backpack, cigarettes, scattered toiletries and a shirt half buried by dirt. Everything looked like it had been here a very long time. I can’t really describe how I felt at that moment in time, sadly as the day went on I became used to seeing grave sites and even kept my cool at the sight of a noose hanging from a tree. At the time it really felt like I was intruding and wasn’t welcome at all.