Valley of Dolls: A Bizarre Town in Japan Where an Artist is Replacing Departed Residents with Life-Sized Dolls
This is one of those things you might never believe if somebody told you, and yet even when faced with the evidence in photos, video, or Google Maps, you find yourself questioning reality (and maybe shaking off a serious case of the heebie jeebies). Welcome to Nagoro, a small village tucked into the valleys of Shikoku, Japan, a place where old residents are being replaced by life-sized dolls.
The work is part of a project by longtime resident and artist Ayano Tsukimi who returned to the village after an 11-year absence to discover many of her old neighbors and friends had left for larger cities or simply passed away. The town itself is dying with a dwindling population of about 35 people.
While gardening one day, Tsukimi constructed a scarecrow in the image of her father and was suddenly struck with the idea to replace other friends and family members with similar dolls. Over 350 dolls and 10 years later, her work continues. She places each doll in a place she feels is important to the memory of that person, so strolling through the down you might discover these inanimate memorials working in fields, fishing in rivers, or passing time in chairs along the road.