Aokigahara, also known as ‘Jukai’, literally means ‘the Sea of Trees’ is a 30-square-kilometre (18 sq mi) forest that lies at the northwest base of Mt. Fuji. Jukai contains a number of rocky, icy caverns, a few of which are popular tourist destinations. You can enjoy yourselves being in the full nature, in a very quiet space without presence of people.
Because of the depth of the forest, the place has been having somewhat spiritual image from the past and even today. There is a local legend saying that deep in the Jukai, there exists a place where you could meet the dead. There are unwarranted rumours about ghosts of the place for there are still people committing suicides and the place is rather famous for it in Japan. It can be enjoyable in another sense if you like video games or movies like ‘Silent Hill’….. (For your future use… In fact, Jukai is very close to ‘Silent Hill’, Shizuoka Pref. ‘Shizu’ means “Silent” and ‘Oka’ means “Hill”.) But of course, we recommend the place for the great nature it provides!
Trekking in Jukai and walking to one of the Fuji Five LakesW around Mt. Fuji on a sunny day is appropriate for forest therapy, really relaxing. Many footpaths are created for the visitors to stroll in the forest. However, if you want to go further deep into the forest, it would be better to apply guided tours because the forest has less feature at a sight which you find it difficult to get landmark on particular trees or rocks around you which would show you the way you came from.
There are also strict rules which applies to the the off-limit areas. When you walk in Jukai, please be sure to strictly keep the rules.
Finding the entrance of small caves would be fun too, but DON’T ENTER THE CAVE unless you have the permit of entering the mountain by Fuji East Area Forestry Office (Tel : 0554-45-7814) and a permit of entering the cave by Kawaguchiko-cho, Board of Education, Life Studies Section (Tel : 0555-72-6053) beforehand and with the right equipments.
Some of the caves are shrines where you could find ShimenawaW ropes on the entrance. As most of the caves are left natural and has no light inside, they look a bit spooky but no need to worry about cursing or haunting. We have been to the place hundreds of times but we are living happily and peacefully! Still, it is better not to touch nor move anything of the shrines or miniature shrines, HokoraW or piled up rocks nearby for religious reasons.
When Mt. Fuji erupted in 864, enormous quantity of lava flowed from Mt. Fuji and burnt the forest. You can see by walking through Jukai that the forest is the primeval forest which was recreated from the devastated plain, with no plants, trees or animals, within these 1150 years without any special hands of human beings.
Laying at the piedmont of Mt. Fuji, it is worth going for a little walk or trekking when you have a plan to climb Mt. Fuji. You’ll miss something if you ignore this beautiful forest!
You’d be able to see some wild animals like deers if you’re lucky enough. You would also have to be aware of deers running onto the roads while you are driving, especially in the early morning and in the evening.
Hunting is not allowed in this forest.
There is no English speaking guide available yet but you could get a written information brochure at the Information Center in Saiko Bat Cave (SAIKO KOUMORI ANA).
Aokigahara, Sea of Trees
Address (Nature Guide Tours) : 2068 Saiko, Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi Pref. Tel : 0555-82-3111 Fax : 0555-82-3112 Website : http://www.fujisan.ne.jp/nature/jukai_e.php E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org (Nature Guide Tours)