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

Contents

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), The Sea of Trees, the 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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Oldboy: Interpretation

Interpretation

“My Name, Oh Dae-Su, means getting through one day at a time. That’s what “Oh Dae-Su” means. But, God… Why can’t I get through today?”

By Michael Cunningham
What you are about to read is my interpretation of the movie Oldboy. If you haven’t watched it yet then please do, it’s one of the best movies ever made. But be warned: it’s not for weak stomachs.

Quick synopsis: the film follows Oh Dae-Su who is released into the world after being locked up for 15 years for no apparent reason by an unknown captor. This is a revenge film which obliterates any that came before it, except maybe The Count of Monte Cristo. The movie holds a 80% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 127 reviews and Roger Ebert called it ‘a powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths  of the human heart which is strips bare.’ Spike Lee is also planning on making a joint out of it, so be sure to watch it before he does. This interpretation came to me like a vision after I had watched the film and struggled to fall asleep. Shuffling around in bed I was reflecting on the final scene in the snow, and was wondering why the lady was touched by the words ‘Even though I’m no better than a beast, don’t I have the right to live?’ written on Oh Dae-Su’s letter. Then it hit me, BAM, right in the face! I rushed to wake my cousin up, who I had watched it with, but he was dead. So I started writing frantically, desperate to catch my train of thought before it left the station. What follows is the interpretation

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