Starting 2016’s strong horror film lineup is Jason Zada’s “The Forest” starring Game of Throne’s star, Natalie Dormer, as a young woman who ventures into the haunted forest in search of her sister. The forest is none other than the infamous Aokigahara, or Sea of Trees, and has been documented as the most popular place in all of Japan to commit suicide, and in the top three destinations for suicide in the entire world. In the trivia’s portion of the film’s page on Internet Movie Database, we see, “Natalie Dormer actually went to the suicide forest for research with her Japanese driver, she ventured 5 meters off the path to take photos and her Japanese driver wouldn’t step one inch over the path”. Catch a glimpse of the trailer below:
Aokigahara, according to Wikipedia, is a 14-square mile forest that lies at Mount Fuji’s northwest base in Japan, and is dense enough to block out most sound, save for a few soft sounds in nature. For years, people have flocked to this hauntingly beautiful place to end their lives, or contemplate to do so. In various photos and Youtube videos, visitors to the Suicide Forest are seen greeted with numerous signs in Japanese and English begging those who enter to consider the people they will leave behind, and to contact the Suicide Prevention Association. But what makes this forest such a final destination? Many have debated on the origin, or cause of the mysterious draw to the end.
Bodies have been discovered in Aokigahara for decades, sometimes as many as 105 in 2003 (Wikipedia), but not all were suicides. An old Japanese custom, Ubasute, “allegedly performed in Japan in the distant past, whereby an infirm or elderly relative was carried to a mountain, or some other remote, desolate place, and left there to die either by dehydration, starvation, or exposure, as a form of euthanasia” (Wikipedia). Could angry spirits of those abandoned be the cause, or could it be something else? Maybe it’s the spirits of those that came to the forest to end their lives, as some Japanese horror films like “Ju-on” display the results of strong emotions before death permeating the veil to affect the world of the living.
When researching the aspects of the Sea of Trees, Mysterious Universe (Online) noted a number of very interesting occurrences that have been documented such as disconnecting silence, little sun or wind, almost muted sound, spinning and jolting compass needles, and the ease of getting lost even for those that excel at navigation. Due to these conditions, many who aren’t positive about their decision to end their lives tie rope, or tape, from tree to tree so that they can find their way back out if they so choose. In a very intriguing Youtube video featured below, a man on suicide patrol in Aokigahara, says that at the end of the tape, you usually find a body, or evidence that someone has been there and possibly changed their minds, but either way – you always find something. The video, definitely not for the faint of heart, shows the discovery of personal items, a skeleton, an abandoned car, and severed ropes hanging from trees where it is evident that a body has been cut down, or removed.
No matter what you believe, the mystery of Aokigahara continues to stump and mystify even the skeptics. Whether it’s angry spirits (called yurei), the volcanic ground, or simply the haunting serenity that the quiet brings a troubled mind, the forest remains an unexplained phenomenon to all.
Believer or skeptic? Have a theory on what could be the cause, or origin? Share your thoughts as a comment below, or on Twitter @TrendyNerdyCool!