Tucked away in the Shikoku Iya Valley in Japan there lies a curious little town. This town is only inhabited by approximately 51 residents…living residents! Shikoku is the smallest island in the island chain that makes up the wonderful country of Japan… an island which has been slowly becoming extinct. The island offers little by ways of tourism and many people have left the island to find other work. In Nagoro, which you cannot even find on internet maps, is a very small town that is unique in Shikoku or to all of Japan for that matter!. It is a town in which dolls make up most of the population!
Indeed I did say dolls! At first glance the dolls appear to be people doing everyday things such as working in the fields, fishing, or sitting at a desk, but they are just meant to replace those that have left or have died. The maker of these curious dolls is one of the very few residents in the village named Ayano Tsukimi and her reason for making the dolls is a rather curious one.
At first the dolls were supposed to act like scarecrows. She just decided to use her father’s likeness for the task of scaring away birds. Soon, as jobs became scarce and people left or passed on, Tsukimi just replaced them with dolls. There are well over 350 dolls now “living” in this rural Japanese town and each are placed in such a way as to get noticed for just looking curiously alive. Tsukimi places them at the entrance of the valley near Nagoro in the hopes that people will stop and notice the town.
Basically, Tsukimi is trying to make Nagoro a unique attraction of sorts to help boost tourism and awareness of the forgotten town. Though these curious dolls are regarded in some cases as creepy, Tsukimi hopes that people will at least notice them. It is even encouraged to go on Google Maps (if you can find it!) on the street view section to see these wonderful creations at your own pace..if you don’t happen to stumble upon the beautiful Iya Valley on your own curious time!