Atmosfears: Poetry in Aokigahara Forest

Writing, reading, and rethinking Japan's "Suicide Forest" with poets Arai Takako, Osaki Sayaka, Yotsumoto Yasuhiro and BBC Radio 4 producers Anishka Sharma and Barney Savage

The forest of Aokigahara at the base of Mt. Fuji has long been a considered a sacred, beautiful, and mysterious place. Recent attention has centered on its legend as the "suicide forest." In July 2018, I traveled there with three poets – Arai Takako, Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, and Osaki Sayaka – and two producers from BBC – Anishka Sharma – to explore the forest, experience its beauty and power, and reconsider its now-global legend.

We hiked off into different directions and wrote poetry based on the experience, then recorded it along with interview-style reflections. The result was woven together with our narrations, and edited by Anishka and Barney.

A Japanese feature published September 2018 in the Japanese poetry journal, Mi'Te, by Arai Takako includes Japanese translations of all the poems along with commentary by each poet.

The project evolved into book form, published in January of 2019. For more on the book, see here.

Photo credits: top and middle, Barney Savage; bottom, Arai Takako. Dozens more by Yotsumoto Yasuhiro are available at the following link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/33395802@N03/albums/72157694508146650/with/42296409410/

Broadcast September 10, 2018 (on World Suicide Prevention Day)
Listen HERE for a limited time. (Click "Listen Now" on the photo)