The Japanese Suicide Forest

During my first trip to Japan I went on a road-trip with my new in-laws and we wound up on the Northwest side of Honshu and I saw the Sea of Japan. For some reason I slowly gained a feeling of peace with an underlying sadness I couldn’t shake.

Sea of Japan from a moving car. We were in a hurry...
Sea of Japan from a moving car. We were in a hurry…

For me, some places just have a an aura of sadness despite their beauty. It was the same for me when I visited New York’s twin towers site, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Salem, Massachusetts. However I have no problems with hospitals, funeral homes, or most cemeteries.

©Robert Gilhooly

When I stumbled on this video about a “Suicide Forest” in Japan, I wondered how overwhelming this place must be to visit. Just to be clear, I have no plans or intentions of going (if I want to make myself depressed, I only need to look at my bank account) and people (mainly foreigners) visiting in hopes of seeing dead bodies are ghouls.

From the youtube page:

Published on May 9, 2012
The Aokigahara Forest is the most popular site for suicides in Japan. After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year. The site holds so many bodies that the Yakuza pays homeless people to sneak into the forest and rob the corpses. The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol more frequently.

Originally released in 2011 at http://vice.com

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

So why did I show you this? I think the point the small sign is trying to make is spot on although people who’ve made up their mind aren’t going to be that easily deterred.

I wonder if this sign has actually worked…

For me, there is also a small degree of morbid curiosity but it only goes as far as Azusa Hayano’s question: Why would someone want to commit suicide in a beautiful forest?

With all the chaos that can complicate our daily lives, maybe the question alone answers itself.

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Author: hikikomori78

American Hikikomori is an upcoming short film that explores the emotional struggles of a Japanese teenager named Isamu Fujihara, when he moves to America.

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