April 20, 2012

Paranormal Fridays: Aokigahara, the Haunted Forest of Japan

At the base of Mount Fuji in Japan sits a forest named Aokigahara. It is the second most common place for suicides in the entire world, and many think the souls of those who have died there continue to dwell in the forest. Japanese mythology teaches that demons populate the forest, and it has the looks to back such a claim up.

Aokigahara features large trees and dense foliage that nearly block out any sound, including the wind. You could say the forest is deathly quiet, giving it an ominous and eerie feeling. The trees' gnarled roots snake through volcanic rock left over from when Mount Fuji was an active volcano, adding to the strange ambiance of the forest.

Like in other areas near dormant volcanoes, under Aokigahara are numerous old lava tubes. These tunnels were formed by the lava from Mount Fuji eating its way through the forest's floor. Some of the tunnels are covered in ice, making them very popular tourist magnets.

Countless people have taken their lives in Aokigahara over the centuries. In modern times, Japanese officials claim several dozen suicides are successfully carried out in the forest each year. In fact in 2010 there were 247 attempted suicides in Aokigahara, with only 54 leading to deaths. Most of the suicides happen at the ned of the Japanese fiscal calendar, and are theorized to be caused by people's financial shortcomings. To curb the suicides, the Japanese government has put up signs discouraging people from taking their own life. Some legends also claim that in feudal times people would take the elderly to the forest and abandon them there to die of exposure, rather than waste resources on them.

Aokigahara is not a particularly large forest, measuring only fourteen square miles. The thick vegetation in the area, the numerous caves and the fact that compasses do not work inside the forest combine to make it a foreboding place to visit. An abnormally high level of iron in the forest's soil is what causes compasses to not work properly.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like a scary place to get lost in as well.