Japan's Aokigahara Forest is better known as the "Suicide Forest." The reasons why it sees so many people take their lives are complicated. Sometimes called "Jukai" by locals, and also called the "Sea of Trees," Aokigahara is an almost silent place where one can easily wander off the path and get lost. It's isolated and haunting, a silent place where a heartbroken lover, depressed person, or jobless businessman can go if they want to take their own life. And it's also beautiful, with ice caves, soaring trees, and a stunning view of Mount Fuji.
Because so many people have died in the Aokigahara, both in modern and ancient times, there are a number of stories, myths, and legends about it. Spooky stories abound of spirits haunting the thick canopy - ghosts called the souls of suicide and murder victims. Those who died by their own hand or in an unnatural way are said to be prevented from joining the spirits of their ancestors because of their manner of demise. So they haunt the trees, the soil, and the mountains - their ghastly moans heard when nothing else can be, driving those currently in the forest crazy.
Here are some of the real facts about Aokigahara Forest. It's up to you whether you want to explore this quiet, foreboding place one day or if reading about it here is as close as you'll ever want to get.
The Forest Is In the Shadow of Mount Fuji
Located at the base of Mount Fuli, Aokigahara is a thick canopy of trees, with a hard floor made of compressed volcanic rock. The soil is so thick and packed together that it's virtually impossible to dig into. Combine featureless ground with thickly packed leaves, and hikers easily lose their way. Not only that, but iron deposits in the volcanic soil render GPS and cell phones useless. It's extremely easy to get lost in the "Sea of Trees."
The Trees Are Incredibly Thick
The foliage in Aokigahara is so dense that it's virtually impossible to see above it, or past about ten feet. The trees are high and crooked, meaning the sun can be virtually blocked out. Japanese officials caution hikers not to wander off beaten paths, and people often use colored tape to mark the trail they've gone on.
It's Nearly Devoid of Sound
The density of the tree growth prevents wind from penetrating the canopy and flowing throw the forest. This gives Aokigahara an eerie stillness and quiet, that hikers have described as almost complete silence. It also means cries can be heard from long distances - hence the source of stories about the forest being haunted with moaning ghosts.
It's Also Devoid of Wildlife
Virtually no wild animals live in Aokigahara. The denseness of the trees makes it difficult for animals to make their way into and around it, and there's little for them to eat when there. Any animals that do live in the dense foliage are nocturnal, and are never seen by humans. The trees are so thick that birds are rarely seen, and hikers have spoken about how startled they are when they actually do hear a bird chirp.