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July 25, 2019

Nagoro Scarecrow Village

Get off the beaten path and see how Japanese live! Or maybe just their dolls?

Nagoro is a remote mountainous area with more dolls than human residents. Being there feels like going into Coraline’s world behind the closed door. There's no need to be scared when coming here, however, the story behind the 350 dolls living in Nagoro Scarecrow Village is somewhat bittersweet.

Who is Tsukimi Ayano?

After living in Osaka for eleven years, Tsukimi Ayano went back to Nagoro to look after her ill father and his garden. Trying to keep the crows and birds away, she built a scarecrow which she made it after the image of her father. The scarecrow seemed so realistic that even the neighbors started chatting with it!

With the death of her father, Ayano started feeling very lonely. The scarecrow, however, calmed her loneliness and grief. This was the moment she thought: "Why stop with one?" The population in her village was declining rashly, as young people left to bigger cities to find work and other people died of old age. The dolls made her feel soothed and less lonely.

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Iya Valley, Shikoku, January 2019

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Where can I find the scarecrows?

Tsukimi Ayano began to make dolls portraying the departed. While walking around the village, you can now see dolls working in the garden, fishing in the river or simply sitting alongside the road staring at you. They were carefully placed in a position that was typical for their behavior.

An elementary school received a lot of attention from the doll maker after it was annouced that it would be closed. After hearing this, Tsukimi Ayano filled the classrooms and hallways with dolls and memories.

Not only did she stitch all these replicas, but also the last two students of the school made dolls of themselves. They now wear clothes which the two students used to wear back in the day.

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Iya Valley, Shikoku, January 2019

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The life-sized replicas made of straw and old clothes seem so realistic that they became popular via the internet. Tsukimi Ayano even placed some of the dolls so that you can see them on Google Maps.

As the village became more and more popular, the artist opened a workshop. Now you can discuss the dolls, learn how to make them and try to make your own. If you’re looking to get involved with a project that’s a bit unusual, this is it. Otherwise, you can take a stroll around the seemingly haunted village and chat with the well-taken-care-off dolls.

Get closer to Nagoro Scarecrow Village and more enigmatic locations. Check out our Japanese Language Courses in Fukuoka!

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