‘Music can save lives’ | 2018-12-24

‘Music can save lives’

24 December, 2018 12:00 AM printer

‘Music can save lives’

NARUSAWA: From his hut on the edge of Japan’s “Suicide Forest”, Kyochi Watanabe blasts John Lennon’s “Imagine” into the night—hoping that music can lift people from their despair before it’s too late, reports AFP.

The 60-year-old musician has been waging an eight-year battle to banish the vast forest’s morbid reputation by reaching out to those who come to end their lives. But now he fears his work is being undone. The forest, known as Aokigahara, made global headlines last year when YouTube star Logan Paul filmed an episode of his online series there, showing a suicide victim at the site.

The footage sparked outrage and infuriated Watanabe, who was born nearby and has spent most of his life in and around the forest.

“It’s a forest of nature. It’s a forest of religion. It’s not that kind of place,” he said.

“Do people want to make this forest a hell?” he said, calling it “so painful” to see the woods depicted in such a grim fashion.

Watanabe now lives in a hut on the edge of Aokigahara, which means “a field of blue trees”.

As night falls, he flips on speakers outside his secluded home and blasts rock and hip-hop into the darkness, breaking the thick silence of the ocean of trees.

He believes music is a way to reach people engulfed in inner turmoil, and describes seeing people turn around and leave the forest when they hear the blasting tunes.

Sometimes he plays guitar and sings his favourite songs into a microphone to break the silence.


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