On the Japanese island of Shikoku, a little village called Nagoro may be found in the Iya Valley. The village’s unusual doll population, which vastly outnumbers the actual human people, has drawn interest from around the world.
Ayano Tsukimi, a local artist, is the maker of these dolls. She began creating them as a gesture to honor and replace Nagoro’s dwindling population. As young people left the town in search of employment in bigger cities, Nagoro’s population shrank significantly. Originally from Nagoro, Ayano Tsukimi went back to the community and started making life-sized dolls to reflect the locals.
The dolls are constructed from used clothing and filled with newspaper or rice husks. Each doll is lovingly handcrafted by Ayano Tsukimi, who models their appearance and attire after former Nagoro residents. Then, to give the community a surreal feel, the dolls are scattered throughout, in places like houses, fields, and even in groups.
There were reportedly about 350 dolls in Nagoro as of my knowledge’s cutoff in September 2021, despite the village’s comparatively small human population of only about 30. Please be aware, though, that since then, the number of dolls or the population of the town may have changed because I don’t have access to real-time data.
The Nagoro Village of Dolls is now a popular tourist destination, attracting people from all over the world who are drawn to its unusual and slightly frightening atmosphere. It is an intriguing and illuminating illustration of how creativity and the arts may be used to confront the changes and difficulties experienced by rural communities in Japan.