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An Eerie Forest

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When visiting the base of Mount Fuji, Japan, you will come across a forest called Aokigahara (青木ヶ原) or The Sea of Trees (樹海). Many aspects of this forest have created myths that it is in fact demon infested. Because of the lack of wildlife and the density of the trees, little sound, if any, can be heard. There are also many icy caverns within the confines of the forest. But these are trivial compared to why this forest is considered haunted by many: the suicides.

Every year, numerous bodies are found in the forest from suicides. Some people attribute the suicides to a novel written in 1960 by Seichō Matsumoto called Kuroi Jukai. In the novel, a young couple commits suicide together in the forest. The problem with this theory is how the suicides began much earlier.

Ubasute, being the practice of leaving an elderly relative in an isolated place to die, was never commonly accepted. Up until the 19th century Aokigahara is said to be one of the only places in Japan where ubasute was practiced.

Since this time, an average of 30 deaths have been found each year. Due to the large amount of bodies being discovered an annual search began in 1970. Records being 73 bodies in 1998, 78 in 2002 and in 2003 the number of bodies grew to one hundred. Over 500 bodies have been found since 1950.

Today, there are numerous signs placed around the forest to deter suicides. Most of these signs simply read, “Please reconsider” or “Please consult the police before you decide to die!” But the signs have not helped too much as the suicide rate has remained at a steady 70 per year. What makes this forest particularly favored for suicide is still unknown, but may never be known as those who are witness are no longer living.

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