A Walk Through The Suicide Forest

VICE Magazine’s short, riveting documentary on Japan’s Aokigahara forest (also known as The Sea of Trees), perhaps the country’s most popular location for those wishing to end their own lives (and reported to be the second most popular location in the world behind the Golden Gate Bridge. The forest’s popularity is often cited as being due to Seichō Matsumoto’s 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai, which features two lovers committing suicide there, but the forest has a history of being associated with suicide and death in general before its publication. In the 19th century families would practice ubasute (literally “abandoning an old woman”) a tradition in which an elderly or infirm family member was brought to a place and left to die, exposed to the elements. In recent years, the rate of suicides has been on the rise:

[…] people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year. The site holds so many bodies that the Yakuza pays homeless people to sneak into the forest and rob the corpses. The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol more frequently.

It’s a very well done piece. Azusa Hayano is, perhaps, the perfect tour guide. It would seem that a geologist would be completely out of his element combing the woods for corpses but he makes for a peaceful and truly compassionate Virgil; managing to keep the horror of the surroundings from being completely overwhelming. His ability to retain some hope amidst such profound sadness is, perhaps, the film’s greatest gift.

8 Responses to “A Walk Through The Suicide Forest”

  1. maggie Says:

    very nice, gentle… Full of good, strong thoughts.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by coilhouse and Zoetica Ebb, Jackie Baker. Jackie Baker said: RT @coilhouse: New blog post: A Walk Through The Suicide Forest http://coilhouse.net/2010/11/a-trip-into-the-suicide-forest/ […]

  3. rickie Says:

    thank you for posting this.

    “we have to coexist and take care of each other.”

  4. Jia Says:

    Wow. That was really amazing. Thanks for posting it!

  5. Jérry Says:

    Loneliness and frustration at the World are very difficult things to live with. Hayano-sama speaks great truth when he says that even though we communicate everyday via computers and such, we still need to see each other, read each others faces and let our minds know that we aren’t alone.
    As for the World, if it were perfect it wouldn’t be so absolutely beautiful. Same goes for people.

  6. Chickenchris Says:

    Thanks! very intensive….

  7. The Suicide Forest Says:

    […] documentary, found on Coilhouse. VICE Magazine’s short, riveting documentary on Japan’s Aokigahara forest (also known as The […]

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