Logan Paul video: What did controversial footage show and what is Aokigahara, the Japanese ‘suicide forest’?

The YouTube star is far from the first person to try and explore the strange forest – though certainly the most controversial

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 02 January 2018 09:54 GMT
YouTuber Logan Paul uploads footage of dead body in forest in Japan

A video showing the body of a dead person is currently one of YouTube's most controversial posts.

The video, posted by a YouTube star, has now been taken down. But not before it kicked off a considerable debate about what should be allowed on YouTube and what is expected of its stars.

The footage was posted to YouTube by Logan Paul, one of the site's most popular stars. He has become famous in part as the result of such outrageous videos, including pranks on members of the public.

This time around he was shown exploring Aokigahara, a Japanese forest that has gained some fame as the site of a number of suicides. He claimed to be exploring the area's "haunted" character, but it was the visceral footage of a dead body and Mr Paul's joking reaction to it that has made the video so infamous.

The video led to a swift reaction: people from around the media angrily criticised Mr Paul and the video, and it was soon taken down. But that was not before it had been seen by millions of people, and images and even videos from the YouTube post are still circulating on the internet.

What did Logan Paul's video show?

The now deleted video – which was accompanied by similar footage posted by friends of Mr Paul – showed a man in a forest who had died by suicide. (The footage showed his face blurred, though included his body and show it in a number of a close-up shots.)

The group had apparently headed into the forest, known as a frequent site of suicides, to film what they discovered inside the "haunted" place. They don't appear to have been intending to find anything, but did run into the body of someone who had died.

As they do, they appear shocked. But they also repeatedly make jokes, with Mr Paul himself mocking someone who says he "doesn't feel good".

The video has now been taken down, apparently by Logan Paul himself and not by YouTube. He also posted a long apology, explaining that he had made a "mistake" and had posted the video "because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the Internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity".

What is Aokigahara, the forest?

Even before it became known and sometimes glamorised as a "suicide forest", Aokigahara was a place associated with the darker and more mysterious parts of the world. It has long been associated with Japanese spirits, and legends suggest that it has long been associated with death; it's thought that it was once the site of the ubasute custom where older people would be abandoned and left to their death, and continues to be haunted by the ghosts of those subjected to it.

In recent years, that has developed into a whole host of both fiction and non-fiction documenting the use of the forest by people taking their own lives. Numerous documentaries have explored the forest and its association with death, and that has led to a large amount of often prying and insensitive interest even before Logan Paul's video.

Much of this reputation could be due to the strange characteristics of the forest itself. The dense plantation in the forest – as well as the strange lava that makes up its floor – mean that it is incredibly quiet and easy to get lost in.

The forest's floor is mostly made up of volcanic rock. That makes it difficult to dig into and alongside other strange characteristics gives the entire forest an eerie, haunted feel, according to those who have visited it.

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