About 4 pm
End of the line, we had reached the end of the red ribbon and knew that we had finally got our closure, we didn’t want to follow any more ribbons; I could already see the credits rolling, it was over. David took a panoramic picture of the forest with me in it, scanning the trees for movement. We were both on edge and just wanted to go home. We followed the white and blue ribbons and the occasional stick or umbrella checkpoint to get out of the forest. It was getting very dark and we didn’t want to get lost in the darkness as it would be almost impossible to navigate at that point. On the way back I felt compelled to stop by a tree and have a look around, I climbed on top of a boulder and squinted at the sea of green which surrounded me. David had a stunned look on his face, like he had just taken a bite out of a lemon, I could hear him say something along the lines of ‘It is so fucked up that you decided to stop here, of all the places’ He then motioned me to the trees he was looking at. Three trees with black smiley faces spray painted on. Who had done this and what did it mean? Dave and I both assumed it was some sort of curse that was put on the trees as the smiles didn’t indicate happiness, they were creepily contradicting. We pretty much ran at this point, we fell over a few times and even got lost for a bit. After much running we were finally safe and outside in the carpark. We looked back and the forest was pitch black: the sun almost fully set. Rain started to bucket down as we ran to the bus stop and waited for the last bus coming home to arrive – the 5:29 pm. We were waiting a while, and there was no roofing at the bus stop, or any place to sit, so we stood and shivered until finally we were on the bus home.
And there you have it, my experience in the infamous Aokigahara forest. By the time we started backtracking in an attempt to escape the forest it was about quarter past 4, the sun was starting to set and it was getting very dark due to the tall canopy of trees which weren’t letting much light in to begin with. Considering we got there at about 11 20 am and finally left at about 5 pm, we were in that forest for almost 6 hours. I don’t have any plans to visit the forest again, but who knows what the future holds. If I do ever come back, it will be for journalistic reasons and I would want to film a documentary about it. I wouldn’t go back just to ‘see’ it again. The locals fear this place, and I now know why, it is truly a haunted area. If you are looking for the macabre, then you will probably find it in Aokigahara. If you want to see ghosts, then come between the hours of 2 and 3 am.
I was surprised, actually, to learn that the forest was located at the base of Mt. Fuji, considering the mountain is synonymous with Japan (everyone knows about it) and yet few know about Aokigahara – I’m sure it must be photoshopped out of pictures of the mountain or something. Mt. Fuji is considered to be sacred – a Holy Mountain you could say – it is an active volcano that is depicted in Japanese folklore as a sleeping dragon, ready to wake at any moment and bring carnage to its surrounding areas. One day the mountain will erupt again, and it will probably wipe out the entire Aokigahara forest with lava. Maybe then the curse that lingers there will finally disappear, but then again, the forest was built on lava, so it’ll likely just pop up again. The death/rebirth cycle continues eternally like a snake eating its own tail. I have some more videos that I will upload soon enough, but, for the time being, there are more photos below. Alternatively you can check them all out on my flickr page. You can also see some truly incredible pictures of the forest in the snow on this guys blog.
Some blog posts by others on Aokigahara:
- Inside Japan’s Suicide Forest – The Japan Times
- World Suicide Prevention Day – Aokigahara Jukai and the Sea of Trees.
- Aokigahara Jukai – The Sea of Trees
- Yamanashi Travellog: Sunlight and Peace at Aokigahara
- The Suicide Forest – The Diary of Robert Kodama
- Aokigahara: Japan’s Very Own Mirkwood Forest
- Aokigahara Jukai, Forest of Death
- Aokigahara Forest and Mt Fuji
- Aokigahara – One of the Creepiest Places on Earth
- The Aokigahara Forest – Japan’s Most Haunted
- A Struggle Through Aokigahara Jukai (the Sea of Trees)
- Crazy Japanese Game Show – Treasure Hunting in Aokigahara Forest
- Snowy Aokigahara (Photography) – Jake Baggaley
- Aokigahara (Photography) – Robert Gilhooly
- Aokigahara Jukai (Photography) – 50mm Blog
- Collection of Aokigahara Photos
- Keiokaiser’s Aokigahara Pictures