Mount Fuji and Aokigahara

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Mount Fuji is not hard to miss and allows glimpses of its symmetrical cone from many vantage points, including Tokyo on a clear day. Snow capped, it really is just like the postcards. The surrounding slopes are dotted with small farms all happily producing food from the rich volcanic soil.

On the northwest base of Mount Fuji, lies Aokigahara also known as the Sea of Trees. The forest is exceptionally quiet and was beautiful in the midst of autumn. Researching it though, it appears to be the most popular place in Japan and the second most popular place in the world to commit suicides (San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is number one). Volunteers regularly patrol the forest to seek those needing help, whilst the still continuing annual ‘body hunt’ began in 1970. Suicide numbers are no longer published to downplay the forests connection but in 2010, 247 people attempted suicide, of which 54 completed the act.

The forest has long been associated with death and demons, going back to an ancient Japanese (alleged) tradition called Ubasute. Ubasute involved carrying an infirm or elderly relative to a mountain or other remote location and then being left to die by dehydration, starvation, exposure, etc. There is no real proof of it occurring but it forms the basis of many Japanese legends and poems.

Supposedly the forest captured in the following photos is filled with the angry spirits of those left to die.

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Fuji San, majestic even while overlooking all those angry spirits.

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This entry was published on November 15, 2012 at 9:00 am and is filed under Japan, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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