Just noticed this is my second post concerning Japan in a row. Just a coincidence don’t over-think it.I learned about this place recently over the internet.
Spacing at about 14 square miles, this heavily dense forest at the foot of Mount Fiji is the home of where hundreds of suicides have been committed in recent years. So severe the problem has been that government officials have put up numerous warning signs throughout the area asking people to think and consider their actions. 72 bodies were found in 2002 which jumped to 100 in 2003. Officials stopped publicizing the numbers as they do not want to popularize the forest with its suicidal association. Judging from the look of the place, it doesn’t seem that comforting.
However it seems to be downplayed how important that is. Psychologists all over Japan racked their brains wondering what drives such a mass group of people to end their lives in this one particular location. It doesn’t just take a spooky forest to hang yourself though, there is always a reason behind it.
Look at life for the common citizen in Japan. Is it gloom and doom? Are there heavy restrictions and decreased standards of living? As an outsider it seems Japan has bloomed in technological marvels, helping to lead the world into a digitized and transformed world. Though there may be more to the picture than just a snapshot like that. Of course there is the recent nuclear meltdown disaster to consider but maybe there is also something else lying under the blanket of society in Japan.
Why is Aokigahara the second most popular suicide site in the world? It is not an easy question to answer. Certainly one that I could never hope to fully understand because things are just different from a foreigner’s point of view. Then again though suicide is a question regarding humanity not just a certain region of the world.
It amazes me how people can actually be torn down to think that ending their lives is the only possible solution to their problems. At that stage of thinking perhaps ‘problems’ is too mild a term for what they are going through. It seems like the time leading up to suicide is spent overemphasizing the temporal worldly torments that take over our lives at times. Bullying is one that comes to mind. Kids are driven to cast away all their hopes, dreams, happy memories, reliefs, comforts, pleasures, and joys for now and the rest of their lives because their withered spirit is just too trampled to overcome the pain. These children are actually convinced that they are worthless. It (sometimes)completely reverses all the years spent by parents rearing their children in hopes of providing a better life.
As a friend told me, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. That is one lesson we should never forget to pass on.
Below is a link to an article about the forest and an 18-minute documentary chronicling a surveyor’s trip through Aokigahara.