Most Notorious Paranormal Experiences
Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a forest on the northwestern flank of Japan's Mount Fujithriving on 30 square kilometres (12 sq mi) of hardened lava laid down by the last major eruption of Mount Fuji in 864 CE. The western edge of Aokigahara, where there are several caves that fill with ice in winter, is a popular destination for tourists and school trips. Parts of Aokigahara are very dense, and the porous lava absorbs sound, helping to provide visitors with a sense of solitude.
The forest has a historical reputation as a home to yūrei: ghosts of the dead in Japanese mythology. In recent years, Aokigahara has become internationally known as one of the world's most prevalent suicide sites, and signs at the head of some trails urge suicidal visitors to think of their families and contact a suicide prevention association.
Aokigahara is sometimes referred to as the most popular site for suicide in Japan. In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002. In 2010, the police recorded more than 200 people having attempted suicide in the forest, of whom 54 completed the act. Suicides are said to increase during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan. As of 2011, the most common means of suicide in the forest were hanging or drug overdose. In recent years, local officials have stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to decrease Aokigahara's association with suicide.
The rate of suicide has led officials to place a sign at the forest's entry, written in Japanese, urging suicidal visitors to seek help and not take their own lives. Annual body searches have been conducted by police, volunteers, and attendant journalists since 1970.
The site's popularity has been attributed to Seichō Matsumoto's 1961 novel Nami no Tō (Tower of Waves). 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 nineteenth century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the yūrei of those left to die.