My Journey Into Aokigahara Jukai (青木ヶ原 樹海) – The Suicide Forest

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Disclaimer: Firstly, there are a lot of images and videos in this post, so I had to break it up into 10 pages to save loading time – you will see the page numbers on the bottom just before the comments section. Secondly, everything written below actually happened, nothing is fabricated.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you’ve happened upon this post and you live in Japan, keep an eye out for your close friends and talk to them if you think they might be having suicidal thoughts; here is a very helpful pdf which details the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal: Suicide First Aid Guidelines For Japan. Also, if you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, try to stay positive and remember that your pain is only temporary once you realise that others can help you – there is help out there. Please talk to your friends and loved ones, if there is nobody who you can trust, please visit the Tokyo Counselling website or the Japan Counseling directory and find a professional to talk to. Life is worth living, if you give it another chance, you might realise that too.

“Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore the equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” – C.G Jung

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aokigahara mt fuji

1200 years ago, Mt Fuji erupted for ten straight days. For the entire duration it spewed molten lava down its summit and casually layed waste to everything in its path. Many people perished, and a great number of homes were destroyed. Huge amounts of lava pooled up in a large lake at the foot of the volcano and divided it into two smaller lakes; Lake Saiko and Lake Shōjiko. Some time after the lava had dried, trees started to emerge out of the ruins, eventually making way for the 35 km2 forest known as Aokigahara Jukai (青木ヶ原 樹海), which translates as ‘The Sea of Trees’. Few could have predicted the darkness that would continue to surround it.

Today, an average of 100 bodies are found in its depths every year, and many are left undiscovered. Few people enter the forest, and those who do rarely return due to its reputation for having the second highest suicide rate in the world. Sadly, the forest has carried an association with death long before it became a popular place for suicide, as ubasute is believed to have been practiced there, which is an old Japanese tradition where the elderly and sick are carried up a mountain or into a forest and left to die – sort of like the story of Hansel and Gretel, except with old people.

The forest is known by many names: Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), Jukai (樹海) which translates in English as The Sea of Trees), Suicide Forest, the Cursed Forest, the Black Forest, and finally the locals I asked in Japan called it ‘NOOO, don’t go there!’ while they made the shape of an X with their arms.
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