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Japan, Suicide forest
2012


Geologist Azusa Hayano (66) grabs a rope that is tied right next to the trail winding through the dense forest which lies in the shadow of Mount Fuji. This Forest is so dense with vegetation, that it is known for being almost impossible to navigate through. Even a GPS or a compass wouldn’t help a lost visitor. This is the reason why the forest of Aokigahara as been elected by so many as their final destination: every year, hundreds of people choose to come and die here.

In 1960, Seicho Matsumoto wrote a novel called “Tower of wave", in which a loving couple commits suicide in this particular forest. This book triggered a wave of suicides in Aokigahara forest with people travelling from afar to take their lives here. The forest is also described in another book by author Wataru Tsurumi, entitled “The complete manual of suicide”, which gives the reader all the different possible methods to commit suicide. The book became a best seller in Japan and has been found next to many of bodies in the woods.

Wataru Tsurumi describes Aokigahara forest as the perfect place to die. In the book the author explains how to drive to this forest, and which part of the forest is best never to be found. The forest is also called the sea of trees (or “Yukai “) by the locals, because of its dense vegetation. It stands on the remains of the last volcanic eruption that occurred 864 years ago, over a surface of more than 3500 hectares.

Those who get into the woods often tie a rope next to the trail and then follow the rope along a few hundred meters. The ropes are usually painted in white and blue and some parts of the forest are completely filled with them. At the end of the ropes, pills, food, clothing, diaries, are often found. A few weeks before our arrival the forest had been cleared of all bodies, which is done once a year, right before the holiday season begins. How weird this place now may be, it is a great tourist attraction.

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