About 2,900 years ago the east face of the volcano collapsed and liquid mud flowed down to the Gotemba area. This incident is now called the Gotemba mud flow (御殿場泥流). Liquid mud piled up over a huge area.
In 864, there was an eruption that went on continuously for 10 days. It sent huge amounts of cinders and ash into the air, destroyed many homes and killed many people. Lava flow was astounding. It is believed that three of Mount Fuji’s Five Lakes, Motosuko, Shojiko, and Saiko, were actually one gigantic lake at the time! Incredibly, the lava flow and subsequent buildup split them into three! This is known as the Aokigahara Lava (青木ヶ原溶岩). The monumental lava-flow is now covered by the Aokigahara forest. Try to imagine what it would have been like to experience that at the time!
Aokigahara is famous as Japan’s most popular spot for suicides. Actually, it is the world’s second most popular suicide location — after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Aokigahara is surrounded by folk tales of ghosts and demons due to its history as a place where very old or very young people were abandoned by poor families.
The forest is likely to attain a degree of international fame with the appearance of the 2015 movie Sea of Trees, starring Ken Watanabe and Matthew McConaughey, who play two people who are trying to kill themselves! They do say that any publicity is good publicity.
In 1707, the fourth year of the Hōei (宝永) era, the latest eruption of Mount Fuji took place. A couple of weeks earlier, there had been a huge earthquake that severely damaged the city of Osaka. The eruption of Mount Fuji that followed created a crater halfway down the southeastern side. Since then, Mount Fuji has been quiet. Some claim that the volcano is dormant but it is still classified as active by scientists.
Featured image: Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons