One woman in a fading Japanese village is slowly replacing its dead residents with scarecrows.
Ayano Tsukimi is a 67-year-old woman who lives in a small village called Nagoro on a southern Japanese island. She’s spent the past 14 years making life-size dolls in memory of all the people who die or move away in her village.
The residents who are left are now outnumbered three-two-one by the dolls Tsukimi has made to replace her neighbours. She has made approximately 350 dolls – over 300 more than the population of her village, which is 37 and dwindling, Indy100 reports.
Originally, the scarecrows were created not to fill the emptying village, but to do exactly as their name suggests: scare away crows from her crops.
In a short documentary, video In Valley of Dolls, by Fritz Schumann, she said: “I thought we needed scarecrows so I made one doll looking like my father.”
And – as you can see – it just snowballed from there.
She places the dolls – which last around three years – all over the village in normal, day-to-day positions – like farming or sitting in a classroom.
Tsukimi concludes in the video:
Some [people] may feel frightened because they look so real.
I don’t think dying is scary.
Tsukimi told New Tang Dynasty Television that Nagoro, like many villages in Japan’s countryside, has been hit hard by the younger generation fleeing to the cities for work. At 65, Tsukimi is among the youngest residents of Nagoro.
The dolls she makes are reminiscent of those found in Shinto shrines, which are scattered densely all around Japan as a way to honour both the dead and kam (gods).
It’s a sweet gesture, but it’s also a tad creepy…