Aokigahara

**Please use caution when viewing the images on this article, some may be too graphic for some people**

There are many things in this world that are amazing for different reasons. It might be the architecture, the lifestyle, the beauty of the location, or the history. One of the places on my bucket list is Japan. I think the country has an amazing history, beautiful architecture, the people are some of the politest you will meet. On top of my list is Kyoto. However there is another place in Japan that is just as beautiful, but has a darker history associated with it as well.

Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees is a forest on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji. It thrives on 12 square miles of hardened lava, that was laid down in 864 CE. The forest has parts there are very dense and the porous lava absorbs sound helping to provide a sense of solitude.

However, the forest has recently become known as “the Suicide Forest” and one of the world’s most used suicide sites, second only to the Golden Gate Bridge. So it has the historical reputation of being home to the ghosts of the dead. Signs at the head of some trails, urge suicidal visitors to think of their families and contact a suicide prevention association. 1.800.273.TALK or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record in 2002 of 78 bodies. Annual body searches are conducted by police, volunteers, and journalists, since 1970. However the numbers have no longer been publicized, to help decrease the suicides in the forest.

Due to it’s dark history, the forest is reputed to be haunted by the Yūrei, or ghosts of those left to die. They usually take the form of pale women in white gowns with long black hair. Tradition says that those to take their own lives can’t join the spirits of their ancestors, so the spirits remain in the forest.

What do you think? Would you be willing to visit the forest and potentially find the remains of a person who ended their life? Those who feel their only option is to leave this life, have not made that decision lightly. They have walked through life and experienced things that were too hard for them to overcome, they weren’t able to continue.

For those who have thought of it, but haven’t done it, please don’t. The world needs your light, know that you have people who care, and want you in their lives. Please, with everyone whom you come into contact with; please give them respect, love, and kindness. We don’t know what they are going through and even a small act of kindness could change their day, their life, and their future.

Please take care of yourself and others, be kind; always.

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