Mesmerized by Fujisan, Part 2: Suicide Forest

Retro Bus that went around Lake Saiko

Continued from Part 1… After a short trip to see Shibazakura, I bussed back to Kawaguchiko station to take the Retro tour bus. There were two retro bus lines, one went around the Kawaguchiko lake, to places such as museums; while the other one (the one I took) was bound for Lake Saiko. I bought a 2-day pass for 1300 yen, but ended up using it for that day only.

The front office of the Bat Cave

Though online reviews mentioned the lake had nice views, and I decided to explore three nearby caves: Komori Bat cave, Fugaku Wind cave 富岳風穴 and Naruzawa Ice cave 鳴沢氷穴. My first stop, the Bat cave, was the biggest out of all three.

I was handed a helmet after purchasing a ticket at the vending machine.

There’s a 5 min walk to reach the entrance. I got excited because I was expecting to see real bats.

The entrance, felt like walking into a cage.

Well, it’s a cave so inside was really dark. Most of my photos ended up reallllly shakkky.

They gave me a helmet for a reason. After descending into the cave, within 10 seconds, I bumped onto the ceiling several times. As you can see in the above photo, the two lighted paths were the tunnels. I had to either crawl or duck down to go through. Funny that there’s a short cut for seniors or people who didn’t want to crawl- though that pretty much meant exiting right after you entered the cave.

The family before me…

It took 15 minutes max to tour the entire cave… it’s a bit disappointing that no bats could be seen. I could’ve guessed though, the bats probably got driven out by swarms of tourists long ago.

Yay, light! to be honest, if not for the family in front of me, I would be kind of scared exploring the cave on my own.

Map of Aokigahara Jukai

Lake Saiko was surrounded by Aokigahara Jukai (青木原樹海), infamous for being a popular spot for people to commit suicide. Before coming here, I saw on the internet that the Bat cave’s office offered a one-hour guided tour for tourists. I was about to enroll immediately after I got there, but the lady there kept telling me “Japanese only Japanese only!” I honestly didn’t care too much about the explanations, I only wanted to take a stroll in the mysterious forest. At the end, I didn’t join as the next retro bus arrived right after I was done with the Bat cave…. and I still had two more caves to go.

Within 10 mins after hopping back onto the Retro bus, I arrived at the Wind Cave. Here’s the Souvenir shop outside the pathway.

Again, there’s a 5 min walk to reach the cave. Here shows the map of the cave.

I would have to say this entrance looked much better than the Bat cave.

Above the cave were trees, kinda cool!

The temperature dropped to slightly above 0 Celcius after entering the cave. Perfect for storing ice!

It simply reads “Natural Freezer”

So it’s used to store silkworm.

This cave was the least special…. ground was slippery but the easiest to walk through compared to the other two caves.

Again, I spent only roughly 10 minutes in this cave… With the 300 yen admission fee, I don’t think I’d come again. Anyway, so this time there’s no bus to get to the Ice cave. In fact, the Wind cave and Ice cave were at walking distance from one another. There were two paths to get to the Ice cave, either walk 15 minutes on the road along with the traffic or take the Tokai trail through the Aokigahara forest for 25 mins.

Tokai trail that passed through the forest.

Since I missed the guided tour, of course I chose the Tokai trail, just to experience walking in the “Suicide Forest”. And it’s only 25 mins, isn’t this perfect?! Anyway, it’s rumored that no cellular signals could be received deep in the forest, even compasses won’t work… so people who were determined to commit suicide usually just wandered deep into the forest, got lost and that usually means no turning back. I checked that my phone had full signal strength though, probably because I was only walking at the edge of the forest.

The sign explains why tree roots are exposed in the area. They look kind of freaky…

The trail was well marked, so it’s pretty impossible to get lost if you just follow the signs

There was a couple walking in front of me while I began the trail. So at least I had some companions, but geez, they walked really slowly… chit- chatting and taking photos of every tree. So it only took me 30 seconds to speed past them.

As I walked, the sights were pretty similar to this… trees with tangling roots.

Okay, so by that time, I had realized there were pretty much only three of us walking on this trail- me and the couple. I walked and walked and heard nothing but wind brushing against the leaves. I wish I had waited on the couple- now I couldn’t even hear their laughs. All those memories of browsing about the Suicide Forest (Joanne commented to one of my previous posts mentioning the forest, so I had searched all about it out of curiosity) filled my mind. Photos of dead corpses dangling on trees… So yeah, I freaked out. And it was only 5 minutes into this trail…. so I began to run.

I wondered if I should put on some music to calm myself down…. but was worried that some creatures (living things or whatnot )might jump out of caves like these… which were EVERYWHERE.

Another 5 minutes passed by, I was sweating like a pig already… not sure if it was from the heat. But anyway, heard some footsteps coming in my direction and thank god it was just a guy running in the opposite direction. I enjoyed 5 seconds of his presence, then I was all alone again.

FINALLY, I saw the exit! I seriously felt like a survivor.

The 15 minutes spent in this forest was like one of the scariest experiences in my life. I mean, I’ve hiked alone in Vancouver before and I hadn’t even had a slight moment of fear.  But this time, thoughts of the stories that I’ve heard/read about this forest simply flooded my mind and scared the crap out of me. You wouldn’t know what I mean unless you walk there alone, seeing those tangling roots and imagining what’s happening deep inside the forest.

A sign near the exit, which reads “Life is important, calm yourself and think about your parents, brothers, children. If you’ve got problems, please call us and talk it out”

Phew, finally got past this point…. I don’t even wanna see the photos, they give me goosebumps.

Lalalaa, entrance of the Ice cave.

A 3D map.

The cave entrance.

In the old days, ice was produced from the cave with natural Fuji-san water for the Emperor. Wouldn’t it melt by then?

This was my favorite cave.

Had to hold onto the handrail and squeeze pass this tunnel. I slid down instead.

Ice cave’s temperature was well below zero Celcius. Walkways were slippery with low ceilings at some points. Staircases were really narrow… It was really fun though!

Ice for the Emperor lol

Almost slipped and fell onto my face as I was taking this photo.

Walking back up to ground level.

Stopped briefly at the souvenir shop, to collect stamps

… and had grape flavored icecream to cool down

Initially, I planned to visit this Hotspring resort nearby the area (discount on Saturday), which would take 10 mins by car, 1 hour on foot. So I asked the store to help me call Taxi, since it’s not accessible by bus. But you’d never guess how much it’s going to charge!! Bloody 5000yen!!! So I gave up and decided to head back to town.

Again, had to walk back to the Wind cave for retro bus.

There’s NO way I would be taking that trail again, so this time I walked outside the forest… I just had to keep staring away from it.

Waited for 20 minutes for the last bus of the day. It was around 5:45pm, and the sun was setting on Lake Saiko.

back to the Kawaguchiko station… the Hotoh restaurant that I wanted to try was already closed. It was only 6pm.

So I went check-in at my hotel, which was just right across from the Kawaguchiko station.

Took a stroll at Lake Kawaguchiko again… to look for food. Nothing was opened though.

A gondola to go up to this mountain by the lake.

Getting dark…

It was just me and the lake. Nobody else.

it was like a ghost town at 7:30pm

So I bought some food from Lawson and headed to the rest area of the hotel- to eat, use internet, and plan for the next day.

There’s even a small hotspring (hot tub lol) at the hotel, which I didnt use. But in the morning, it’s got nice view of Mt. Fuji.

My bed.

It was cheap to stay for the night (2700 yen) since I opted for a 7-people Dormitory. So the room was a large one with 7 bunked beds. Guess what? Not sure if I was lucky or what, but I was the ONLY one in the room. A private dormitory room ALL to myself. Actually there were 2 other people staying here, but they went to Kyoto for the night. So it was only me, and 7 beds. I had the light on the entire night, and tried really hard not to think about trees as I forced myself to sleep…

To be continued…

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