It was night, deep night. I was reading about a forest a few weeks earlier. But it was not just any forest, it was “Aokigahara” where people come to leave for the unknown mystery of death. I went to bed late. Then it happened, I discovered myself in the middle of Aokigahara.I was alone, scared a little bit, walking into the deep Aokigahara. Then all of a sudden I noticed something. Bodies, two dead bodies. No, not of any animals. Because there are few animals there. They were of men. And they were dancing in the breeze as they were hanging from branches. I was there, standing just in front of them hanging, astonished, frightened, got many things to say but none to share, screams got clung in my throat; I felt cold eyes of panic.
This was the nightmare I had that night I was researching about Aokigahara. It was amazing.
Where is it..?
“Aokigahara”, another name “Jukai”. Also known as Suicide Forest. Not large indeed. Only 14 sq mi or 35 sq km. It lies at the base of Mount Fuji. Then why its another name is Sea of Trees? The answer lies in the forest itself. Here the trees are so dense that it consumes all sounds except natural sounds of its own. And it barely let someone to meet with other hikers. Its vastness consumes everything. That's why it's called Sea of Trees. And it's a forest where you will hardly notice wild lives, even birds.
Why it's called suicide forest..?
Aokigahara is known as the perfect place to die. It is the second most popular place to take one’s life. Somehow The Golden Gate Bridge which connects San Francisco with Martin County managed to keep itself in the first position. No specific statistics on death in Aokigahara is possible as in part the forest is so lush that some corpses can go undiscovered for years or can even get claimed by the forest itself.
People come here to nature but never come out. Since the 1950s the rate of suicide rate increasing. The number of suicide was 78 in 2002. I think its name unravels itself.
To prevent suicide, the government have mounted signs, posters, placards saying how precious life is or to remember his/her family. This does not help much to reduce determined people from committing suicide in this dense forest.
Volunteers patrol this area. The government sends people annually. Thier goal is not to prevent people from committing suicide, they go there to collect the remains of bodies and bring back them to civilization for proper rituals.
Is it a place of Yurei..?
Japanese believe that Aokigahara is haunted by Yurei. Yurei is a Japanese version of Ghosts. Yurei is often represented in forms of women. Shinto belief has no heaven or hell for the afterlife. If after death proper ritual is performed, the spirit meets with ancestors and enters into a protective circle. Otherwise, the spirit enters into a temporary condition of torment or suffering. Here comes the yurei. It fits the conditions of the corpse in Aokigahara.
But Yurei is not only a ghost. Yurei is bonded with this earth by emotions. It even may come in form of dangers. Yurei comes back even for vengeance. If their desire becomes strong, then even religious figures cannot exorcise them. Do the Yureis in Aokigahar provocate visitors to suicide? Is there any way to know?
It is also believed that spirits of Aokigahara creates malfunctioning in instruments like compasses and radio signals. But as a matter of fact, it's not like what is said. Aokigahara is at the base or Mount Fuji. It was a volcano someday. That's why a number of metallic oxides is very high. This sometimes creates irregular magnetic orientation. Sometimes this hampers our magnetic signals. It is nothing spiritual.
A novel: patron of suicide..?
In the sixties of last century, Kuroni Jukai, a tragic novel of Seicho Masumoto was published. It stated the story of a heartbroken lover who laid his life in Aokigahara. This tragic lover’s story has a sinister influence on Japanese. This book has been the last companion of many corpses of this forest.