Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hauntings: Aokigahara Forest

Aokigahara Forest (Japan)

Aokigahara Forest, at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, is the site of up to 100 suicides a year.  It’s also known as the "Suicide Forest" and is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide (the Golden Gate Bridge being number one).  Some people blame its popularity on Seicho Matsumoto’s 1960 novel, Kuroi Kaiju (Black Sea of Trees).  At the end of the book, two lovers commit suicide in the forest, and since its release, suicides in the park have increased every year.  However, legend has it that well before then, hundreds of Japanese people hung themselves from the trees of Aokigahara forest over the years.

The trees in Aokigahara are so plentiful and full of vines that sunlight rarely reaches the forest floor.  Wildlife and birds avoid the forest, leaving it eerily silent.  Because of a high concentration of iron in the soil’s volcanic rock, compasses are useless, so it’s very easy to become lost in the dense, dark woodland.

Many Japanese believe the souls of the dead have been absorbed by the trees, and stories abound of unnatural sounds, strange lights, and travelers being unable to escape the forest’s clutches.

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