Aokigahara forest is a beautiful forest of a size of 35 km square, located around 100 km from Tokyo, created some 1000 years ago, after an eruption of Mount Fuji. Locally, it is also known under the name of Jukai (“Sea of Trees”) because of its very high density of trees.
From the air it looks like a vast green serene ocean… but inside it keeps a lot of death tragedies.
Called “the perfect place to die,” the Aokigahara forest has the unfortunate distinction of the world’s 2nd most popular place to take one’s life (the 1st is for the Golden Gate Bridge).
Catching the beauty and the eerie nature of the forest, Polish photographer aims to make people stop and ponder over their lives, and hopefully rethink their decisions before committing a suicide.
It is stated that everything began in the 19th century when people started practicing there the so called “ubasute ritual” (an infirm or elderly relative was carried to a mountain, or some other remote, desolate place, and left there to die, either by dehydration, starvation, or exposure, as a form of euthanasia).
The suicide forest phenomenon however started in 1960`s with a romantic fiction story for an unfulfilled love. In the book “Tower of Waves” by Seichō Matsumoto, because the couple couldn’t be together, they decided to commit suicide inside this forest. The impact of this story resulted in around 30 people yearly committing suicide in the Aokigahara Forest, until 1988.
Gradually, not only an unfulfilled love but other dramatic personal stories became reasons to raise the number of suicides to 105 in 2003. In recent years, Japanese authorities discontinued publishing exact suicide numbers in order to avoid making the place even more popular.