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Forests are home to millions of species and a place where people can adventure. But the Aokigahara Forest, located at the northwestern base of Mount Fuji, Japan, is known for its odd history. Many people have chosen this forest as the place to spend their final moments and walk in with no intention of ever leaving Aokigahara.
The Aokigahara Forest, also known as the “Sea of Trees,” is filled with densely twisted trees, giving visitors an eerie sense of solitude. For many years, it has been a popular destination for people who want to commit suicide. Local authorities are aware of this, in fact, they have taken several measures to prevent suicides in the forest. For instance, they have installed security cameras at the main entrance. Since 2011, patrols on the Aokigahara have increased. Here are some other creepy facts about Aokigahara Forest.
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Aokigahara is one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world.
Since the 1950s, there have been recorded suicides in the forest increasing at a rate of between 10 and 30 every year. Around 105 bodies were found in the forest in 2003 while there were more than 200 attempted suicides in 2010; 54 of them managed to take their own lives. However, the exact number of deaths in the forest are unclear until now because the Japanese government has stopped publicizing the number of suicides in Aokigahara in recent years.
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There are vengeful spirits of old people living in the forest.
One of the popular myths about Aokigahara involves an ancient Japanese custom called ubasute. It is a mythical practice of senicide in the country where an elderly relative is carried to a desolate place and left there to die. It was believed that the forest was haunted by vengeful spirits of the old who had been abandoned to starvation and the mercy of the elements.
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A book popularized the forest’s grim atmosphere.
Many believe that the tragic novel “Kuroi Jukai” written by Seichō Matsumoto in 1960 was to blame for the resurgence in the forest’s macabre popularity. In the book, the author narrated the story of lovers who committed suicide in the forest. This romantic imagery has proved a seminal and sinister influence on Japanese culture. Also, The Complete Manual of Suicide by Wataru Tsurumi described the Aokigahara as “the perfect place to die.”
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Annual searches have been held in the forest since 1970.
Throughout the years, a lot of volunteers patrol the area, making interventional efforts. However, these annual endeavors are not intended to rescue people, but to recover their remains. Every year, police and volunteers would search through Aokigahara to bring bodies back to their families for a popular burial.
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Visitors use tape to avoid getting lost.
Usually, visitors and volunteers mark their way because the forest is so thick that anyone can get lost easily. People may not also be able to call for help even when they carry GPS systems, gadgets, and even compasses with them. Some think that this is because the soil of Aokigahara is rich with magnetic iron, but some believe that this feature is proof of demons in the dark.
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The forest is home to limited wildlife.
Thousands to millions of species rely on forests for their survival, but not with Aokigahara. According to an article by BestLife, the digital destination for men and women, the forest has a limited variety of native animals despite the relatively large and secluded area it occupies and the density of its plant life. However, animals like foxes, deer, rabbits, squirrels, minks, mice, moles, and the Asian black bear can be found there.
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It is full of suicide prevention signs.
Local authorities are doing everything they can to prevent the number of suicides every year. One of the efforts is suicide prevention signs. Several signs are spread throughout the forest with messages saying, “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” “Think carefully about your children, your family,” and “You don’t have to suffer alone.” This effort is part of Japan's plan to reduce annual suicides by 20 percent within the next seven years.