Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A woman who goes by "Scarecrow Mother" has filled a deserted Japanese village with life-sized dolls

Just a couple of pals enjoying an eternal, completely silent hangout.
Just a couple of pals enjoying an eternal, completely silent hangout.
Screenshot: Tokyo Lens

Nagoro is a village on Japan’s Shikoku island that would be pretty much entirely deserted if it wasn’t for the work of Tsukimi Ayano, a woman who’s decided that the best way to deal with a dwindling local population is to replace living, breathing humans with hundreds of people-sized dolls.

YouTube channel Tokyo Lens visited Nagoro—also referred to as Kakashi no Sato or “Scarecrow Village”—to take a look at the more than 300 friends Ayano has quite literally made over the years. Host Norm Nakamura explains that Ayano returned to Nagoro in 2002 after a long time away and found that many residents had left during her absence. With only 27, largely retirement-age people still living in a village that had lost most of its population not to a scarecrow-animating curse but to the lure of nearby cities, Ayano began to hand-make dolls that each have their own name and personalized life story.

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Now, thanks to her work, there are dolls outside of stores, dolls at bus stops, and, because no children live in Nagoro anymore, an entire elementary school gymnasium filled with dolls attending a very subdued doll festival.

“It’s almost frightening in a way,” Nakamura says at one point, opening the door to a building where a few dozen scarecrows sit looking toward the entrance. We’d say that’s a bit of an understatement.

But the hundreds of dolls Ayano has made are impressive—not just for the skill employed in creating them but also in her determination to use her talent to singlehandedly turn Nagoro into a tourist attraction that has helped revitalize the village, at least in part.

In a post regarding the video, Boing Boing quotes Ayano, who says that “nobody stopped by” before she began making the scarecrows. “Now many people visit here,” she says. “I hope Nagora will become lively again and many people come here for sightseeing.”

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.