The world is full of places which are alleged to be haunted or cursed, and if you’re afraid of ghosts, you might want to avoid visiting any buildings not built in the past few decades. However, there are some places on this planet that are disturbing even to the most devout skeptics.
If you’ve seen the 2016 movie, The Forest, then you should already be familiar with Aokigahara Forest. Nicknamed the “Sea of Trees,” it lies at the edge of Mount Fuji on a bed of hardened lava. Due to the fertility of the land, the roots of the trees often grow so large that the trees appear to be walking. However, it is the number of suicides, rather than the unusual appearance of the trees, that gives this forest its reputation. The most recent recorded number of suicides was 105 in 2003. They haven’t stopped since then, but the police have stopped releasing the numbers in an attempt to disassociate the area with the suicides. The 2016 movie built upon the myth that the forest is haunted by yurei, a Japanese ghost, possibly a result of the elderly who were allegedly abandoned there in the 19th Century, in a practice known as ubasute. However, a likelier scenario is that the high number of suicides can be attributed to two books, Tower of Waves by Seichō Matsumoto published in the 1960s and The Complete Manual of Suicide by Wataru Tsurumi published in 1993. Tower of Waves tells the story of a couple who commits suicide in the forest. Tsurumi’s book; however, describes the forest as the ideal place to end it and describes the best parts of the forest to avoid being discovered.
Overtoun Bridge in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland
While there are a few explanations for the suicides in Aokigahara Forest, none of them explain why a dog might decide to end its life by jumping from a bridge. But that seems to be what is happening at Overtoun Bridge in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. While there is no paper trail to verify the exact number of dogs to have leaped to their death from this bridge, it is alleged that there have been more than fifty since the 1950s. The stories prompted animal behaviorist, Dr. David Sands, to conduct an investigation of the phenomenon. According to Sands, it is impossible for dogs to plan their own deaths. His initial observation of the bridge’s structure and the paths leading up to it showed that it was unlikely a dog would be aware of the dangerous height until after it was too late to stop the jump. Additionally, Sands narrowed down the possible motivators for the jumps to be the scent of mink urine. This scientific conclusion has not stopped speculations of hauntings; however, the bridge has only claimed one human victim, a baby, who was thrown from it by his father who was convinced the child was the anti-Christ.
The Island of the Dolls in Mexico
Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls) is a small island south of Mexico City with a disturbing past. According to legend, the island’s caretaker, Don Julian Santana Barrera, found a young girl drowned in a canal near the island. He was unable to save the girl, but he found her doll floating in the canal and he hung it from a tree, likely as a memorial. For the next fifty years, he continued to find dolls and hung them on the island. In 2001, he died in the same canal where the girl drowned. As with any unexplained event, stories sprang up that the island was haunted by the girl’s spirit and some visitors claim that the dolls move their heads and whisper to them. Others doubt whether the story of the girl’s drowning is true and speculate that Barrera was driven mad by the solitude of the island. Today, the island is a tourist attraction with visitors bringing more dolls to add to the collection.
When looking at a picture of Mount Everest like the one above, the adjectives most likely to come to mind are ones like “beautiful” or “majestic.” The word “creepy” would not even make the list. But what many people don’t know is that Mount Everest is littered with the bodies of climbers who attempted to reach the peak and never made it back down. There have been more than 250 deaths on Mount Everest, most of which occurred at an elevation above 26,000 feet, in an area known as the “death zone.” Clearing the mountain of these bodies is both expensive and dangerous. There have been attempts in recent years to at least remove the bodies from the paths, two in particular which have gained nicknames from the other climbers who had to pass by them to complete their own climbs. Some climbers prepare for the possibility of their death by making arrangements in advance for their body to be retrieved, but there are others who actually prefer to have their remains immortalized on the mountain.
Darvaza Gas Crater, Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza Gas Crater, which lies in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, has earned the nickname “The Door to Hell” due to the fact that it has been burning for nearly half a century. It started in 1971 when a group of geologists began drilling in what they believed to be an oil field but was actually a cavern of natural gas which collapsed under the weight of their equipment. The result was a series of craters, the largest of which was 230 feet in diameter and 65 feet deep. The collapse caused methane to be released, killing animals in the area and posing a risk of explosion. The geologists thought lighting it on fire would burn away the gas within a few weeks, but they had no idea how much gas was actually in the crater. In 2010, the president of Turkmenistan expressed an intention to fill the crater, but that hasn’t come to pass and “The Door to Hell” continues to burn today.
There are places in this world that are amazing. There are places that are mysterious. But there are also places that are just downright creepy.