Monday, November 14, 2011

Aokigahara Forest and Mount Fuji

Aokigahara, near Mt Fuji

Although my Tokyo life seems to be an endless string of soirées in Shibuya, DJs, and various social events, I tend to favour activities that revolve around nature and exploring Japan.  On Sunday morning, my friend Mike and I messaged each other (after practically no sleep) and decided to hop on a two-hour train ride to Fuji, for a little (and very unplanned) hiking adventure.

Mt Fuji is only open for climbing in the summer months, so the plan was to hike around the local area, and also check out the mysterious Aokigahara Forest. The forest, also known as "sea of trees", contains several icy caverns and is very dense. Aokigahara is sadly also infamous for being a popular place to commit suicide, due to its association with demons in Japanese mythology. Various signs around the forest urge visitors to reconsider their actions, and each year a high number of bodies are found.

The forest eerily has a non existent wildlife, and is completely silent, due to the density of trees blocking the wind. Incidentally, the vegetation is in pristine condition and very lush. Scary but fascinating, and as morbid as it sounds, we wanted to take a glimpse of the area. Indeed, the forest was beautiful, dark, and eerie. We visited a bat cave, which was quite the adventure as we had to literally crawl- claustrophobics please refrain.

We did not venture very deep into the forest, as local park rangers strongly discouraged us to do so, so close to dusk. We took some pictures and hiked around, until it suddenly got pitch black and scary. I think we caused the park rangers a great deal of stress. The forest is a bit difficult to get to and buses are very infrequent, so a carefully planned journey is essential.

It was one of the best day trips I've ever had in Japan. I love being surrounded by mountains and nature (however creepy that place was), I adore long train rides and discoveries, alongside friends to share it with.  All in all, we spent more time in trains and buses singing songs from high school and playing "who would you rather..." than actually being in the forest, but the journey is always the best part.


The journey started on Sunday morning, at Shibuya station, coffee and my idea of hiking gear

Touch screen vending machine at Shinjuku station: I got Pocari Sweat

On one of the many trains that would take us to Fuji

Fujikyu, the cutest train line ever.

Not sure what is going on here.

Before venturing into the forest, we had udon. Although we were tempted by the "nomal taste" dish, we both settled on the Japanese wild "veggetables", delectable dish.

Stylish helmets for cave exploring purposes

Aokigahara

Aokigahara

Aokigahara

Aokigahara

Stunned

Mt Fuji omiyage

I heart Japan

Next summer I'll actually climb Mount Fuji!

**Edit: I found out about this Vice magazine documentary on Aokigahara. The content is definitely not suitable for all viewers, but if you want to find out more about it, I think it's quite fascinating.

17 comments:

Judith said...

I watched a mini documentary on this forest, and I wondered how such a gorgeous place could be the graveyard to so many. It's on my must see Japan list.

thevoyageofv said...

I can't even imagine being so close to Mount Fuji that I could just take a day trip there. Looks so beautiful!
Do you take these photos with Instagram? Which film and filter do you use?

Vivian said...

Judith: I highly recommend visiting, it is quite fascinating. I was a little creeped out by the idea originally, but I very much enjoyed it. It is a really beautiful forest, despite its association with death. We want to go back again soon and spend more time there.

Vanessa: Indeed, I live so close to Fuji, I really must climb it in the summer. Yes, I used Instagram... different filters each time! I need a proper camera, it's my next purchase... I want to take better pictures than iPhone ones!!

catkin and teasel said...

Miss you guys. You know I would have hopped on that train with you!

Vivian said...

Eloise: Wish you were here!! I KNOW you would have hopped on that train with us, you were always up for anything!! We miss you here, really wish you were in Tokyo... xx

Fashimi said...

I love the little omiyage so much!!! I want one!

Looks like a really nice day. That forest is so sad but looks quite beautiful too.

Vivian said...

Sophia: I'll send you a Fuji omiyage, I think we'll go back soon, we want to see more of the forest.. and we found a bus that gets there faster (and much cheaper!). Wish you were here!!! I know you would have enjoyed all my train snacks... haha. xx

endofthegame.net said...

I thought I'd comment as I recently visited Aokigahara forest and spent 6 hours exploring it with two friends and three cameras. I compiled most of the video footage + photos along with bits and pieces from my journal to construct the story of my experience there - It honestly is a really beautiful forest and very unique too seeing as it was built on one of Fuji's eruptions. If you want to check out my post (follow the link)
http://endofthegame.net/2012/02/20/aokigahara/

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Dazy DeSena said...

Can you provide info on how to get from the 5th station to the forest please. How far/long is the forest from the 5th station? Did you take a cab or is there a bus that runs? Any info will help. We are going this month. Thank you

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