Aokigahara Forest / 青木ヶ原

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Aokigahara Forest

Aokigahara (map) also known as the Sea of Trees (樹海, Jukai), is a forest on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji (map). The western edge of Aokigahara, where there are several caves that fill with ice in winter, is a popular destination for tourists and school trips.

The forest has a historical reputation as a home to *yūrei: ghosts of the dead in Japanese mythology. At least since the 1960s, Aokigahara has become associated with suicide, eventually becoming known in English by the nickname “the Suicide Forest”, and gaining a reputation as one of the world’s most-used suicide sites.

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The forest floor mostly consists of volcanic rock. Designated trails lead to several tourist attractions such as the Narusawa Ice Cave (wiki, map), Fugaku Wind Cave (wiki, map) and Lake Sai Bat Cave (wiki, map) which are three larger lava caves near Mount Fuji, the ice cave being frozen year-round.

Aokigahara has been falsely portrayed as a place where navigational compasses go haywire. Needles of magnetic compasses will move if placed directly on the lava, aligning with the rock’s natural magnetism, which varies in iron content and strength by location. However, a compass behaves as expected when held at a normal height.

Aokigahara is sometimes referred to as the most popular site for suicide in Japan. In 2010, the police recorded more than 200 people having attempted suicide in the forest, of whom 54 completed the act.

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For sorting through transport schedules and fares, HyperDia is an invaluable companion; it computes to-the-minute directions including connecting trains, as well as buses and planes.

+ Getting to Yamanashi (yamanashi-kankou.jp) • Transportation in Japan (japan.travel)

 BUS >   Buses are plentiful in Japan, and over the last few decades they have evolved into a major mode of intercity transportation, especially for overnight travel. Major operators of intercity include JapanBuslines.com • WILLER • JR Bus (kakuyasubus.jp) • kate.co.jp. >> (*Bus travel in Japan)

 RAIL >   Central Japan Railway CompanyWest Japan Railway CompanyEast Japan Railway Company. >> (*Rail travel in Japan)

 AIRPORTS >   Most international flights arrive at either Narita Airport near Tokyo or Kansai Airport near Osaka; a smaller number use Chubu International Airport near Nagoya.

Japan has many great opportunities for bikers. Bike rentals can be found throughout the country, especially near popular routes. Some routes (like the Shimanami Kaido Bikeway, which takes you from Onomichi on the main island to *Imabari in Shikoku) have been set up specifically for bikers.

Aomori – Hokkaido

Inland Sea (Seto Naikai)

Kagoshima – Okinawa/Yakushima

  • Kagoshima – Amami-Oshima – Naha: A Line and Marix Line (26 hours, 14,610 yen)
  • Kagoshima – Yakushima: the Yaku-2 ferry departs every morning (4 hours, 4,800 yen) or there is the high-speed Toppy jetfoil (from 2 hours, 8,800 yen).

Sendai/Niigata – Tomokomai

::: Source: VICE

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