Suicide Forest Movies

Cinema has also echoed the Suicide Forest.

The appearance of films like The Sea of Trees or The Forest has boosted curiosity about Aokigahara.

We know that the Hollywood film industry is accustomed, also, to remake movies or themes that have had a unique “pull” in other countries. Some of this has happened with the movie Aokigahara.

Let’s start with the most commercial of movies.

The Forest (2016)

This movie has been the last and the most successful. It combines terror, mystery and suspense.

Directed by Jason Zada and starring Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Eoin Macken, and Stephanie Vogt. Duration: 93 minutes.

The plot, in short, is: A woman, Sara, of American nationality receives notice of the possible suicide of her twin sister in the Suicide Forest. Sara goes to Japan where she stays in the same hotel as her sister. With the help of a journalist, Aiden, and Michi, the park’s guide, he goes into Aokigahara, to look for his sister. They camp inside the forest and…

The scenes of the forest were filmed in the Tara National Forest, in Serbia; the views of the interior, in Belgrade. In Japan, only three scenes were shot.

The critics that received the film were rather weak. These criticisms have not been matched by the audience since the collection in cinemas has been about 38 million USD, against a budget of 10 million USD.

The Sea of Trees (2015)

The cinematographic style of this film is developed in the drama.

Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring: Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, and Ken Watanabe. Duration: 110 minutes.

Plot: Arthur, American, enters Aokigahara with the intention of ending his life. In the forest, he meets Takumi Nakamura who is lost in the forest after an attempt to kill himself. Both begin a path of reflection and survival through the Suicide Forest, where…

The film was shot almost entirely in Massachusetts. The forest scenes were shot in Northbridge. Only the view of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka was filmed in Japan. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and the reviews were not too generous. To this we must add that it has been an economic failure; with a budget of 25 million USD, in the first year, it obtained a collection of just over 800 thousand USD.

Aokigahara (2012)

It is a Japanese film that has not had distribution outside of its country. The film turns out to be a mixture of romantic drama, mystery, and fantasy.

Directed by Taku Shinjo and starring: Aki Maeda, Toshihiro Yashiba and Hiroshi Katsuno. Duration: 108 minutes.

Plot: While walking through the Suicide Forest, Matsu encounters a spirit that leads him to his lifeless body. The appearances turn out to be frequent, and Matsu investigates the past of the soul and discovers that…

It premiered at the Skip City International D-Cinema Festival in Saitama (Japan) on July 14, 2012.

Other films related to the Suicide Forest

The films mentioned above are developed mainly in Aokigahara.

Other films in which our forest is part of the plot are, for example, 47 Ronin (2013), Grave Halloween (2013), Forest of the Living Dead (2010).

Most of these films have been criticized for exploiting the subject of suicide with little sensitivity.

Documentary about the Suicide Forest

Aokigahara is a place that has been arousing great attention concerning the high frequency of suicides that take place inside.

This great attention has shown in a large number of videos uploaded to the Internet. The unfortunate publication of a video uploaded by the vlogger Logan Paul, which had to withdraw it due to the number of protests generated.

Within a large number of videos, we highlight two documentaries that approach the reality of the Forest of Suicides with seriousness and from two different points of view.

“Aokigahara Suicide Forest” (2009)

This documentary was produced by VBS TV (owned by VICE) in 2009. It is a 21-minute live documentary. Original audio: Japanese. VOS: English.

The point of view offered is that of a forest guard. Mr. Azusa Hayano, geologist and guardian of the place. He takes us in his car to the Suicide Forest and, along the way, he tells us about personal aspects of his relationship with the environment and the mission entrusted to him.

Once arrived at the place, it places us in the context of Aokigahara, giving us reason for the formation of the forest and the names it has received and its meaning.

When the walk through the forest begins, he’s narrating different situations that, out of respect for the documentary, I will not disclose to avoid making a “spoiler”.

The attitude of respect and sensitivity of Mr. Azusa Hayano draws attention throughout the different moments.

We recommend his viewing.

“El Bosque de los Suicidios” (2016)

This documentary is part of the Cuarto Milenio program of the Spanish television network Cuatro, directed by Iker Jiménez. The duration is 33 minutes. Spanish Language. Date of issue: February 28, 2016.

This report is made taking into account the paranormal point of view. It contains situations and their corresponding attempts to give a vision a step beyond reality, focusing a little more on the mysterious aspect of the place. This documentary on Aokigahara is more dramatized and interspersed images taken on the spot with comments from the filmmakers on the television set.

Other documentaries about Aokigahara

The appearance in movie theaters of a film about the place has aroused great interest in the Suicide Forest. The profusion of videos on the subject has been immense.

Videos of all kinds have been produced, from tourist content to paranormal content, including the morbid. The vast majority of them are of questionable quality.

When conducting the search on the Internet, it is striking that if we search for “Aokigahara documentary”, in the video section, 2,400 results appear; whereas if we look for “Suicide Forest documentary” we obtain 50,700 results. Perhaps, a more explicitly morbid semantics is more striking.

Of all these results, the vast majority are more or less long fragments of the documentary by Vice (2009), “Aokigahara Suicide Forest”.

Tour in the Suicide Forest

Taking a trip through the Aokigahara forest can be a fascinating experience. We can: enjoy a well-preserved natural landscape, imagine the experiences of those who enter the forest to abandon their lives,…

How do we get to Aokigahara?

The Aokigahara forest is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This park is one of the most visited in Japan.

We are in Tokyo, we go to the bus terminal of Shinjuku, where we take the bus that will take us to Kawaguchiko station, after about 2 hours of travel.

Leaving the station of Kawaguchiko, we went to the bus stop, stop number 1. We took the bus that makes the circular route “Lake Saiko and Aokigahara Shuyu”.

After a journey of about 35 minutes, we arrive at the Bats Cave. This is the starting point to visit the Suicide Forest.

Excursion to Aokigahara

In the Bats Cave Information Center, if we want, we can hire a guided tour. The paths for the trip last 90 minutes.

We left the car park of the Bats Cave, where we found a situation map.

Right at the beginning, at the first crossing, we go to the Yachonomori Park (Wild Bird Park) by the path on the left.

Attention: Under no circumstances leave the marked path to enter the forest.

In this section of the walk, we will enjoy plants of all kinds, especially the monotropastrum humile, white saprophyte plant that is shown from the end of May to the beginning of July.

Recommendation: For a good conservation of the forest, the plants and trees must be respected, including the roots that cross the marked paths. Considering that the roots can not penetrate the lava soil, the balance of the forest is precarious to any change.

Throughout the tour, we can enjoy exotic plant species. At the same time, we will find a grotto. The forms acquired by the trees can be whimsical, like that of the Japanese cypress in the shape of an eight-tailed snake (mythological animal)

At about 900 meters from the start, we come to a crossroads where we can take the road to: or Lake Saiko, or the Wild Bird Park, or the Wind Cave or the Ryugu Cave.

If we take the road to Lake Saiko, we can enjoy trees with odd shapes that together with the shapes acquired by the lava, can remind us of scenes from animated fantasy movies. This is one of the attractions of Aokigahara.

Following the road, we will arrive at the Nenbahama entrance next to the road. Crossing the road, we will arrive at the mural with the map of the forest situation, from there we can go to Lake Saiko from where we can contemplate the view of Mount Fuji.

From Lake Saiko, we go to the parking area of Nenbahama, where we will find a rest area and the bus stop back to the Kawaguchiko station that, in 25 minutes, will allow us to take the bus back.

In any case, if we do not feel safe to travel through our account in Japan, we can count on organized trips in Tokyo or even in the information center of the Kawaguchiko station.

Bodies in the Suicide Forest

In 2010, there were 247 suicide attempts in Aokigahara, of which 54 were found to be fatal.

In the open paths of this forest, you find posters in which you invite, through inspirational phrases, to potential suicide bombers, to reconsider their intention to take their own lives.

They are written in Japanese, with white signs on a brown background and may contain messages such as: “Your life is a valuable gift from your parents. … Do not keep it. Share your problems. Please, seek help and do not go through this place alone” and the phone number of the Suicide Prevention Association is indicated on the poster.

Even so, there are people to whom these messages are not enough to reconsider their decision.

Aokigahara last destination

Those who visit the place with the intention of taking their own lives, go into the forest, through unmarked paths, to abandon themselves and lose themselves.

In some hidden place in the Suicide Forest, they give up their lives and, either by ingesting drugs or toxic substances or by hanging, empty their lives.

The reasons that lead them to end their own lives, seem to have no relation to the practice of seppuku or hara-kiri or suicide for honor but, would be referred to heartbreak, financial failure, loneliness, …

According to Japanese mythology, those who kill themselves and do not receive a proper funeral ceremony, are transformed into yūrei (幽霊), which could be translated as “lost souls”.

Suicide Forest, recovery of bodies

Every so often, the police, accompanied by volunteers from the area, organize raids to search for human remains. The degree of decomposition of the dead bodies that are usually found is diverse, depending on the time elapsed since the commission of suicide.

Rescuers go into the forest and, if they find a body, they remove it from the forest and transfer it to the police station.

At the local police station, there is a room, with two beds. In it, they deposit the body, lifeless, rescued from Aokigahara in one of the lounge chairs.

The members of the search party, play jan-ken-po (じゃんけん), meaning, “rock, paper, scissors” to draw a last task. Those who lose the game must accompany the body during the night.

The reason for this last mission is to prevent the body from remaining alone, for the yūrei to start shouting and the dead body to return to its previous original abode in the Suicide Forest.

Dead Bodies of Aokigahara and manga

In Japanese popular culture, more specifically in the manga, there are stories of stories related to the bodies of the Suicide Forest. For example:

  • Los Kurosagi entrega de cadáveres, where five young people who form the group of the Kurosagi, put their unique skills at the service of the bodies so that their last wishes are fulfilled. In chapter 1, they find a recent dead body in Aokigahara who wants to meet his girlfriend.
  • Tokio Ghoul, (about the “gules”, which feed on bodies) wherein the Café Anteiku dead bodies are used, coming from Aokigahara, to feed the gules and thus prevent them from killing the humans.

In the cinematography, there are also more explicit examples of this aspect of the Suicide Forest, but we will see this later.

Ghost stories in the Suicide Forest

There are places where, due to different circumstances, stories of ghostly apparitions, extraordinary presences, meetings, events, etc., are perceived by people with special sensibilities.

In Aokigahara, the whimsical shapes of the trees, the natural illumination, the effects of the wind on the tops of the trees, … together with the religious traditions, certain social practices and the famous legends are source of narrations of paranormal phenomena, awakening the dark side of the imagination.

Suicide Forest stage for the paranormal

If we left the marked trails and went into the forest, which is not advisable, we would find a forest in its natural state in which all directions would be the same so it would be easy to get lost.

The volcanic substrate on which the forest develops is hard and, above it, the trees grow with shallow roots that extend chaotically. These roots together with the trunks can produce whimsical shapes, such as an eight-tailed snake, a deer,…

In Aokigahara, we can find a poor and cold illumination, dark caves, plants that do not contain chlorophyll and are entirely white and look like the fairies of the forest,..

Wildlife is scarce and this makes the forest a tranquil and strangely quiet place, where any noise is easily audible. These characteristics make Aokigahara the prototype stage for a mystery or fantasy film, or even horror. Proper proof of this can be seen in the collection of photos taken, inside the forest, by Tomasz Lazar.

The yūrei, traditional ghosts

In the Japanese tradition, there is an essential collection of spirits that suffer between the world of the living and that of the dead. The manga and the anime have been inspired by these spirits to develop their stories.

The yūrei They are the Japanese ghosts. They are specters in pain for something that happened to them in life, or for the absence of a funeral, or for suicide. The form of his death or the motive that pushes them back to earth determines the type of yūrei in which he manifests.

The yūrei are feminine, pale and translucent figures that act at night and are dedicated to frightening those who hurt them. They lack feet and move levitating.

They are intimately linked to the place where the death occurred, and they can only abandon it once the pending account has been repaired.

Aokigahara Forest is, according to tradition, one of the places frequented by these ghosts.

Let’s recap: We have secular traditions that tell us that “ultralife” of spirits and that are rooted in popular culture. We also have, as we discussed in a previous post, with a possible location of the underworld; with a place where the ubasute was practiced and which, at present, is (sadly) famous for the suicides that occur in it. Finally, the scenario has environmental characteristics that awaken the dark side of the imagination.

So, it is not surprising that in this breeding ground germinate experiences, such as the appearances of ghosts, people endowed with particular sensitivity to visit the Suicide Forest.