To be honest, I’ve avoided the whole story altogether. Haven’t watched a video, haven’t read an article. I’m not superstitious about much at all, but Aokigahara was much more than just a trending macabre fascination to my mother and her generation. Because of them, I have always found recent fascination by the outside world (and of the younger generations) disturbing and insensitive.
After all, Western civilization has no respect for hallowed ground. We are curious gravediggers by nature. We dug up King Tut and put him on display. We dig up any non-Western burial site and then fight over whether we should sell it or put it in a museum, with no regard to the cultures we just robbed.
The significance of Aokigahara Jukai predates pop culture. Poorly described as a “mysterious suicide forest” by those who lack spiritual understanding. It is a final resting place for weary souls. Before its global notoriety, it was far more sacred than mysterious. When I was younger and very curious about the spiritual culture of my homeland, the Sea of Trees has come up in quiet conversation at times, and I have learned to treat it with more respect than awe. While known for the dead, the dead were once living, so the living have a connection to its mysticism. I could tell by the way my elders shared what they knew, as well as what they felt.
So when I first saw “suicide forest in Japan” as a headline a few years ago, my heart sank. It wouldn’t take long before someone would trample through it like a haunted house, irreverent to its sacred nature that was honored/respected/cautioned for not just generations, but for dynasties. The world would trivialize it as just another ouija board fascination. I can’t even begin to explain my reaction to the latest incidents. I avoid it, not out of superstition, but out of respect. Those bodies may be nameless oddities and macabre attractions to everyone else, but they are lost loved ones to those who knew them.
That’s all I have to say about it, for now. That’s all I’ll say about it, ever.