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Aokigahara: The Ghost Forest of Japan

Aokigahara Ghost ForestAokigahara is a forest located at the base of Mount Fuji, near Tokyo, Japan. Once associated with demons in Japanese mythology, it is now a popular destination for people seeking to end their own lives. It is unknown how many people have committed suicide in the forest, but it is estimated around 500 have killed themselves there since the 1950s.
The forest is typically ranked 2nd in the world for most suicides in one location, (after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California). In 2008 alone, 78 bodies were found among the rocky, volcanic floor.

Aokigahara Suicide ForestRecently, the government has stopped releasing death tolls within Aokigahara in order to downplay the situation and avoid bringing more attention to the area. Signs have been posted in Japanese and English begging people to turn back and reconsider their actions. Despite their best efforts, officials and volunteers have been forced to hold yearly body searches since the 1970s.
Aokigahara’s history with death goes beyond suicides, as well. In the past, during droughts and other hard times, some Japanese would practice the act of ubasute, which was the nearly ritualistic practice of carrying the sick and elderly into the forest and leaving them to die. Reputedly, the forest is haunted by the victims of ubasute as well as the countless people who ended their own lives on the grounds.

Yurei GhostThese ghosts, called YĆ«rei, are said to torment and bring despair to those who enter Aokigahara. Forest rangers, who have the difficult task of retrieving bodies, have reported hearing mournful cries and howls of the dead. Visitors to the area have claimed to witness the shadows of people hanging from tree branches. Spiritualists called to investigate these claims, have said that the trees themselves are filled with malevolent energy from being surrounded by depression and death for so long.
Few animals call the densely-packed forest home. The resulting silence can be overwhelming. For whatever lack of living creatures, many insist the forest is home to an ever-growing army of lost souls. The discarded and depressed, they believe, still wander through a sea of trees, rooted in death.

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