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Referencing Wataru Tsurumui’s bestselling book “The Perfect Place to Die – The Complete Manual of Suicide”. Aokigahara is know as a dark, thick forest located at the base of Mount Fuji, now know as a popular suicide spot.
Now no one knows exactly how many bodies go undiscovered among the Mount Fuji forest, but the ones uncovered so far have already earned this place an eerie reputation. In 2002, 78 bodies were located in Aokigahara. In 2006, another 16 suicides were reported. Some of the victims even carried copies of Tsurumui’s book “The Perfect Place to Die” with them, which makes this even creepier. The forest is covered with signs the plead for people to “please reconsider!” or “please consult the police before you decide to die!” but obviously these have little power on those determined to die at the base of Mount Fuji.
The mayor of Aokigahara blown away by the high number of suicides registered in the area says “We’ve got everything here that points to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as ‘Suicide City’ and encourage people to come here”. Locals say they can always tell those of who is going into the forest to admire its amazing beauty, and those who aren’t planning on ever coming back. They say part of the reason people decide to commit suicide in Aokigahara forest is because they want to die at the foot of the sacred Mt. Fuji and because it’s so dense and thick it makes it hard to hear any sort of sound even from a few kilometers inside the forest.
Aokigahara is considered the most haunted place in all of Japan, where the unsettled “yurei” (ghosts) howl their suffering into the winds. The noises heard here might be considered normal in most forests, but knowing the reputation of this place, people tend to freak out at the sound of squeaky branch. Of course, there are scary stories about the trees themselves being filled with evil energy along with centuries of suicides. Legends say there are massive iron deposits underneath the forest that cause compasses and other navigation gadgets to go haywire trapping both suicidals and innocent visitors. While Japan’s Self Defense Force, who regularly trains in Aokigahara says its military grade tools work just fine, they admit pretty much all commercially available equipment doesn’t.
As haunted as these suicide woods may be, they still have to be taken care of by regular forestry workers. Occasionally, they stumble upon dead bodies in various states of decomposition, usually hanging by trees or partly eaten by wild animals, but instead of running the other way screaming, they are brought to a nearby station. Here they are deposited in a spare room with two beds in it – one for the body and the other for someone to sleep next to it. There is a Japanese believe that if left alone, the unsettled yurei will scream all throughout the night and move into the regular sleeping quarters, so the workers play rock-paper-scissors to determine which one will sleep with the body.
This community center for sex workers, was inspired in 2007 by former prostitute, Carmen Munoz, when she saw how many old sex workers in Mexico City were sleeping on the streets. Carman was discussed at the sight and was determined to help in anyway possible. She spent many years lobbying for support from the government as well as local media. The mayor at the time, Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador, gave Carman an old run down 18th century house. Carmen spent much time transforming this house into what now houses 23 old Mexican prostitutes, with 45 current vacancies. Now there is only one stipulation when staying here (besides the obvious ones being an ex-prostitute), women have to be at least 60 years of age. Interestingly enough, women who stay at Casa Xochiquetzal, choose to continue practicing their job, even when they are required not to. All I know is this is truly the sign of a new age.