Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a 35-square-kilometre forest that lies at the northwestbase of Mount Fuji in Japan.
The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Due to the wind-blocking density of the trees and an absence of wildlife, the forest is known for being eerily quiet.
The forest floor consists primarily of volcanic rock and is difficult to penetrate with hand tools such as picks or shovels.
The forest has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology and is a popular place for... suicides!
54 completed the act in 2010, despite numerous signs, in Japanese and English, urging people to reconsider their actions.
There are also a variety of unofficial trails that are used semi-regularly for the annual "body hunt" done by local volunteers.
In recent years, hikers and tourists trekking through Aokigahara have begun to use plastic tape to mark their paths so as to avoid getting lost.
Though officials try to remove the tape time and time again, more tourists and thrill-seekers inevitably leave more of the litter, and a great deal of it lies scattered throughout the first kilometer of the forest, past the designated trails leading to tourist attractions such as the Ice Cave and Wind Cave.
The forest is the most popular place for suicide in Japan and second in the world after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Statistics vary.
In the period leading up to 1988, about 30 suicides occurred there every year.
In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, exceeding the previous record of 74 in 1998. In 2003, the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom completed the act. Suicides are said to increase during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan.
The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging those who have gone there in order to commit suicide to seek help and not kill themselves.
The annual body search, consisting of a small army of police, volunteers, and attendant journalists, began in 1970.
Don`t forget that the forest is 35-scuare-kilometre! So how many body`s aren`t found yet!
Why this forest?
The site's popularity has been attributed to the 1960 novel 'Nami no Tō' ("Tower of Waves") by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest.
However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death: ubasute may have been practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly "haunted" by the Yuri (angry spirits) of those left to die.
What is the truth?
Yes this is all true.
I don`t understand why the suicide rate in Japan is so high.
But Japan is surely not the only country with a high suicide rate.
Like in Belgium, suicide is the second highest cause of death.
People are depressed and lonely in these modern times with no hope.
However there is.
In this documentary made by 'Vice' you can see the beauty and horror of Aokigahara!