Eleven years ago, Tsukimi Ayano (now 65+) returned to her home in Nagoro to take care of her father. However faced with this exodus from the village, she has populated the village of Nagoro with dolls, each representing a former villager. About 350 life-size dolls now reside in Nagoro to replace those who have died or left the village years ago. Since then this village became also known as Nagoro – Village of the Dolls.
Nagoro is hidden among the mountains of Shikoku, Japan, located in a valley along the river Iyagawa. The remote location has caused the residents to leave to the major cities in search of work. There is not even a shop to be found and a local bus stops here just once a day. There is little reason for immigration and if people die there is no one to fill their emptiness. Nagoro is slowly shrinking.
The local school is now filled with a few dozen dolls patiently waiting for class to begin. Made of straw, the bizarre dolls are dressed in old clothes. Once working in the garden, Tsukimi made the first doll in the likeness of her father and then she came up with the idea to replace the other family members with similar dolls. 10 years later, her work continues. Every doll is located in the place where she would resemble that person. So strolling along the village you will find quite unique monuments either working in the field, fishing in the river or simply sitting along the road and starring at you.
Even the bus stop is populated with doll-villagers. However it seems these are not waiting for the local bus but for tourists. Here you can sign the guestbook. At many locations tree stumps have been added so you can sit and rest or take a selfie with few of the dolls. Meanwhile, have a look around and be amazed by this village and its dolls.
It’s amazing to see the dedication and perseverance of Tsukimi. You will be fascinated by the realism of these fabricated characters and its rather funny that these dolls outnumber humans in this village. Because Tsukimi herself explains that her dolls can last only three years each, you better hurry for Nagoro. If not for the dolls then for the nature. You won’t regret.
How to get there
Nagoro is best visited by car. From Oboke, Miyoshi take road #45 east bound then follow road #32 south until it ends. There take road #439 northeast direction towards Mnt Tsurugi. You will not miss Nagoro.
|Vine bridge (Kazurabashi) near Iya Kanko Ryokan|
Read about the vine bridges
|Oku-iya Nija Kazura bashi - Couple rope bridge near Nagoro|
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|Oboke tourboat at Yoshino River|
|Iya Kanko Ryokan|
Website Hotel: Iya Kanko Ryokan
Japanese style rooms.
2 minute walk from the scenic spot Kazura (rope) bridge. Homelike hospitality, with excellent seasonal local dishes, also you can experience making soba noodles.
|Nagoro -Village of the Dolls|
read about Nagoro
|Peeing Boy Statue - “撒尿男孩” 塑像|
Read about this Peeing Boy statue