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Haunting Facts About Japan's "Suicide Forest"

Updated July 31, 2019 220.5k views15 items

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. In early 2018, the forest gained mainstream attention when YouTuber Logan Paul sparked controversy by filming a dead body at the location.

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. 

  • Aokigahara Has More Than Trees

    Photo: elminium / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    While it's famous for its impenetrable canopy of trees, Aokigahara also has a number of astounding natural features. The most prominent are its deep, icy caverns, such as Narusawa Ice Cave, and Wind Cave. Hikers can go deep underground and encounter sheets, columns, and pillars of ice - all hovering at freezing temperatures.
  • It's the Place With The Second Most Suicides in the World

    Photo: elminium / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    While Aokighara is known for its trees and ice caves, it's infamous for its suicides. It's estimated that this forest is the site for more people taking their own lives than anywhere else, second only to the Golden Gate Bridge. Estimates of how many people have killed themselves there vary, but it's likely to be at least 500, and quite likely many more.
  • Nobody Knows How Many Suicides Have Taken Place There

    Like the Golden Gate Bridge, Japanese authorities don't publish the exact numbers of suicides that take place in Aokigahara, in order to stop it from becoming even more popular. But unlike Golden Gate Bridge, and other popular suicide sites, the true number isn't actually known by anyone.

    While forest workers find about 70 corpses every year, it's thought that many others are simply gone, swallowed up by the thick vegetation on the ground.

  • Spirits Called Yurei Are Said to Haunt the Forest

    Photo: Thien V / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    In Japanese folklore, spirits known as yurei are said to haunt the forest. They usually take the form of pale women in white gowns with long, black hair. They concentrate in Aokigahara because tradition says that those who take their own lives can't join the spirits of their ancestors. 

    Yurei are still considered, even in modern times - as evidenced by the ritual of the forest worker sleeping with the corpse of a suicide, so their spirit doesn't become angry.