Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Aokigahara

Few months ago, I saw a documentary about Japan’s Aokigahara or Suicide Forest. It was an eye-opener and I have been thinking how a beautiful forest can be the final place of lost souls.
Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees (樹海 Jukai), is a 35-square-kilometre (14 sq mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself. more here
forest

I joined a tour last month and one of the itinerary was in Aokigahara. We explored the forest by following strictly the public trail. There are warnings not to go to restricted areas as well as to think about your family and loved ones before committing suicide. The place is not as depressing as I imagined it to be. Or maybe because I was in an open part of the forest. Being there is like a therapy, no hints of city sounds, only the voices of nature.


Untitled

The giant trees seem to be hundred years old. Most of their roots and trunks are covered with moss, an indication of how long they have been there. Perhaps at times, they were comforting the lost souls who have no more energy left to survive the pressures of earth.

aokigahara

 Such a depressing stat
In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, exceeding the previous record of 78 in 2002. In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, it is estimated that more than 200 people had attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom completed the act. more here
solaceUntitled

Lost Souls 

 i decided to be one with nature 
 where I can stop growing 
become a moss 
 a leaf or a wildflower 

i can be a firefly 
guiding the lost souls 
to nirvana of century old branches 
brooks and caves 

my energy to live 
 in a physical world may be gone 
 but i am alive 
 as a lullaby of the wind

 the autumn leaves 
hide my sneaker and jeans 
 the left over wine 
cheers for years not so well-spent 

 sayonara 

 /totomai

Untitled
autumn

Here’s the documentary I have mentioned in the opening line of this post. 



/totomai
2015/12/02 

 Photos taken with Nikon D7000,
 lenses used : 
                 Tamron 11-16 mm 2.8f 

49 comments:

  1. I feel this energetic wish to stop the vitality of physical being It has a new vitality, the kind that making a decision can give. Sayonara is almost cheerful as the freedom has its own song. I am sad.

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    1. Such gorgeous photographs!

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    2. Thanks Susan. Sayonara is both cheerful and sad

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  2. as a lullaby of the wind...
    Such a beautiful image :D love your response to the prompt.

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  3. 'the autumn leaves hide my sneaker and jeans the left over wine' was the line that resonated most for me in this beautiful post..how quickly life can be destroyed..and yet perhaps amidst devastation is the everyday..the banal - the things which keep us all going and which can indeed be beautiful

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    1. Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide.. I am not sure why it's quick for them to end themselves

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  4. a deep sigh could be felt in every word here...

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  5. "I am alive as a lullaby of the wind" - so beautiful. The forest itself looks eery. How sad that so many have ended their lives there. I wonder if their souls still wander the forest, which is pretty spooky looking. Once again, you take us to a place we have never heard of with an interesting story we might otherwise not have known. Thank you, my friend.

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    1. Yes Sherry, it was really eerie. Maybe nature is calling them. always a pleasure to share :)

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  6. Your response is totally 'out of the box' its intriguing and thought provoking; thanks for the awesome photo share also

    much love...

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    1. The place itself is very intriguing. Thanks :)

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  7. I like the contradictions offered by the first two lines, and how the rest of the poem serves to develop the idea into a much clearer thought: the "I" in the first stanza does stop growing as a single entity, but when s/he becomes one with nature, what is born is one with everything.

    Love the images, and the uncanny history behind the forest.

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    1. Thanks Magaly. We will all be one with nature I guess

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  8. The agony of the lost souls have been well depicted in the poem. A wonderful piece of work.

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    1. Can they find peace after all? Thanks

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  9. Oh my goodness, I enjoyed reading about the suicide forest both in your words & in the poem. I will have to come back to listen to the documentary as well, as I can't imagine how it would happen that such a beautiful place would be one which drew people to end their lives. But, yes, I suppose one continues to live on in the lullaby of the wind.... This will stay with me, Totomai.

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    1. Hope you were able to watch the documentary Mary :)

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  10. Indeed a beautiful, peaceful place. Thanks for your lovely photos. Your poem is very lovely too. It is hard to know whether to be sad and a bit repulsed to think of people using this forest in such a way, or to be glad they find a kind of peace and hope in doing so.

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    1. The documentary was very moving, largely because of the clear-headed honesty and compassion of the narrator.

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    2. Indeed Rosemary. I really admire the forest ranger.

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  11. What a beautifully sympathetic post and poem your have written Totomai. You have done great service to those who decided to end their lives in this beautiful place.

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    1. I hope the number of suicide will go down this year. Thanks Robin

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  12. I've read about this place several times and have always wished to visit there, your pictures bring that yearning back alive again. Your words to become one with nature and become a lullaby on the wind, a great writing.

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    1. Hope you'll have the chance to visit the place Tatius.

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  13. I am so at home in the forest I wonder what it is that pulls people to such an end in this place. The beauty and energy that you have shared in words and photographs is inspired Totomai!

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    1. Perhaps, the comfort of the leaves and trees. Thanks Leslie

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  14. A friend of mine is one of the forensic pathologists who help to identity the dead when they are found and did not leave any id behind. I've known of this place for years and when I visited, was told to stick to the strictly public paths. Many times, you will see long long strips of colored tape where the person will leave the path and unroll wandering to the place they feel to the space for them. Sometimes they think and use the tape to return. Too often, my friend says when you follow the tape to its end, you will find a body. It is a mindset we have difficulty understanding. Some have lost jobs, family, status and consider seppuku as the honorable and best way to remove themselves from a life lived among those who know of their "failure". It is a haunted place but it is a beautiful forest in spite of the sorrow left there.

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    1. It could the Japanese pride / ego thing. Thanks for your sharing Toni

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  15. succinct structure of this poem made it even more telling - love the way you inverted the theme of matter into energy and dealt with such a sad scene without maudlin sentiment

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  16. Whoa!! The images are stupendous...so is your poem. Just loved the 'lullaby of the wind'-- Incredible!

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  17. I enjoyed the background and beautiful pictures of the forest Totomai ~ Too sad that people come there to die but the ancient trees are very beautiful ~ Love the poem on being one with nature, like a firefly ~

    Hope you are well ~

    Grace

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    1. Thanks Grace. amazing place that is why some wants to stay there forever

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  18. Sad. No one should feel that level of despair to end it all. If we were kinder I don't think it would happen.

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    1. but i guess we will never know the exact reasons why some decided to end their lives. Thanks Rall

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  19. "A lullaby of the wind" is my favorite line but the whole poem is perfect. That there exists such a place is at once tragic and comforting.

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    1. Amazing isn't it Carol? Ah, the surprises of this world

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  20. It is most chilling. Can"t think a place like this.It is understandable as suicide is an honorable way out in Japan.Very imformative Totomai

    Hank

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    1. Thanks Hank. I really suprised by the numbers of suicide cases here in Japan

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  21. It is most chilling. Can"t think a place like this.It is understandable as suicide is an honorable way out in Japan.Very imformative Totomai

    Hank

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  22. The forest holds mystery and comfort.

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  23. To put an end to one's life does require energy and great effort. The forest promises new life and perhaps this is why it such a popular place fro suicide.
    I imagine it would be a beautiful place to die in...

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    1. Having your legacy live amongst the trees. Thanks Nicholas

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  24. hi, i wonder does the public trail is really visible? coz i'm afraid i will get lost. i really wanna go there with my bf this coming november.. if the trail is clear and visible i wont have much worries. thanks before :)

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    1. I would suggest to join bus tours. The forest is huge though there are public trails. But better be safe. Sorry, saw your comment on the spam folder :(

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any thoughts to distill?

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