Note: Below is the first of Josh’s video diaries that he filmed while he was split up from us. We found the camera in the forest later that day and haven’t heard from him since – just kidding… or am I?
I tiptoed out of there, careful not to disturb anything, and met up with David, I didn’t tell him about what I saw, we were communicating silently the whole time. We walked a bit more and he showed me what ‘he’ had found – another grave, this one had old AA batteries, a pack of Marlboro reds, an umbrella (black, like the last one), lipstick, toilet paper and what looked like someone’s photo I.D torn up into a bunch of tiny pieces and scattered on the wet soil like seeds. I was curious what the story behind the torn up I.D was and couldn’t help but picture in my head the strange ritual that these people must go through before they commit suicide. Judging by the debris I guessed that they probably brushed their teeth for the last time, shaved for the last time, destroyed their I.D for the last time, smoked their last cigarette and then destroyed themselves.
I imagined they would do these things as they are all routine activities that they have total control over and I suppose doing these trivial things would be a fitting last taste of humanity before they snuffed out their candle. Maybe they brush their teeth with tears in their eyes, full of regret, or perhaps they grit their teeth as they do it, full of hatred for society and its routines. I can understand that smoking a final cigarette would be a moving experience for a suicidal man or woman. It is the fulfilling of their last and only reachable human desire before they purge themselves of all desire. The cigarette could be a moment for them where time stops still and they have the freedom to either contemplate their desire to die, or to admire the beautiful forest surrounding them.
I wondered whether they felt alone during and after their cigarette, or if they felt for the first time that they weren’t alone, that instead they were in a forest where others had made the same hard decision they have before them. Maybe that is the allure of Aokigahara: to end your life in the one place where it is o.k to commit suicide, because you can be truly alone and not have to worry about your family seeing your body and because the quiet of the forest whispers that it’s alright to feel the way you do, that others have ended their journey here too and no one is judged for doing it. I imagine these people understood that life would go on with or without them, and they weren’t required to be there for time to keep ticking. Someone deciding to end their life must see existing as being analagous to watching a really long movie that, for them at least, really stinks. They realise that the exit sign is blinking in the background and keep turning their head, while everyone else in the theatre has their eyes glued to the screen. They realise they can leave if they like, but first they have to convince themselves that it is o.k to leave. Once they leave, the movie is already forgotten about but it continues to play. And it’s the most ambiguous movie ever made, it’s very long and evokes completely unique reactions in everyone who watches it. And just like the video tape in the ring, after you watch it, you die. We all die eventually anyway, isn’t that such a drag?
I am obviously over simplifying something I will hopefully never understand as I don’t plan on ever committing suicide, but this is just my way of coming to terms with the reasons one would want to commit suicide, a reality that I have since had my eyes opened up to. I like to hope that after the ‘final’ cigarette was smoked the person had second thoughts and went home, leaving their pain behind. I feel like I shouldn’t write about what I saw in the forest beyond this point, as I don’t like the idea of portraying this place to be some sort of ‘ringu’ amusement park, designed to satisfy our hunger for our most primal emotion: fear. But, as this is my private journal, I feel I should describe what else happened on my journey, if only for my sake. One day I can look back over all these travel journals of mine and think, wow what a stupid life I led!