Thursday, November 1, 2012
The Sea of Trees
It's a beautiful place and the first thing you say is Hey, we should go there! And maybe you should just don't be surprised when you find wallets, credit cards, and signs begging you to reconsider taking your life. After San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the Aokigahara Forest is known for the enormous amount of suicides that occur in this so-called "paradise".
The Sea of Trees lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. In many Japanese legends, the Sea of Trees is associated with demons and other supernatural creatures.
There is a book titled Kuroi Jukai in which two lovers take their life in the Aokigahara.
It is also believed that the act of Ubasute has taken place in the Aokigahara more than once and probably still takes place. Ubasute, also called "obasute" and sometimes "oyasute", literally means "abandoning an old woman". During Obasute, an old woman is taken somewhere desolate and left there to die. A poem was written to commemorate the story:
In the depths of the mountains,
Who was it for the aged woman snapped
One twig after another
Heedless of herself
She did so
For the sake of her son.
Aokigahara is not only known fo its suicide record but also for its ghosts and myths. In japanese mythology, a corpse cannot rest alone. If a corpse is lying alone, the soul of Yurie will scream all night. The Sea of Trees was nicknamed the "Purgatory of Yurie". Hikers recall seeing apparitions and it is said that you can see the faces of the dead if you look hard enough into the tree bark.
The suicide record is really high and is increasing each year. In 2002, 78 bodies were found. In 1998, 74 bodies were found. In 2003, the count rose to 100 bodies. The numbers grew at such a rate that the government stopped making the numbers public in order to preserve Aokigahara's reputation. In 2004, 108 bodies were found within the Sea of Trees. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide but only 54 succeeded in actually taking their lives. The suicide numbers increased more quick than usual during March, the end of the fiscal year in Japan. In 2011, the most popular ways of taking your life was either drug overdose or hanging.
(You can read about the fiscal year here. You can also read more posts on the Freako Diva.)
Written by Rubina H. with the help of Liza P.