Tour Of Japan – Nagoro Will Astound You

Some things can be both totally creepy and totally captivating. The dolls of Nagoro, Japan fit that description.
An eerie classroom scene in the local school. Photo from

Nagoro is in Shikoku, Japan, but it is so remote and isolated it is not included on your average tour of Japan. For many years, the residents of the tiny town have been fleeing to seek their future in the more populated regions of the country, leaving a current ‘real’ population of around 37 people (living, breathing people).

One resident, Ayao Tsukimi, upon returning from Osaka, discovered her once-vibrant village to be a now-lonely shell of the past she remembered.

She began with one doll – a scarecrow to keep her garden safe. She modeled that first doll after her father.

She continued creating dolls, making them in the likeness of people remembered from her past. Eventually, the town ‘population’ swelled to roughly 350. Of course, only 37 of those residents actually require sustenance.

The dolls, completely handmade with material and stuffed with straw. have a life expectancy of roughly three years. They are displayed in the open air and subject to the ravages of weather. The displays are set up to mimic real life.

'Residents' sitting patiently waiting on a bus that never arrives. Photo courtesy of Real Clear.
‘Residents’ sitting patiently waiting on a bus that never arrives. Photo courtesy of Real Clear.

You will see workers in the fields. Fishermen on the side of the creek. Students in classrooms. People at a bus stop waiting on the bus that never comes. Tsukimi stated that she was trying to create an atmosphere that people might like to stop and photograph – and that she has.

Tsukimi has brought her town back to life in a sense and it is a frequent stop for many people. No tour of Japan would be complete without a stop in this remote village. The location is a favorite for camera-wielding tourists eager to capture the essence of the village.


Valley of Dolls from Fritz Schumann on Vimeo.


Featured image from Real Clear. Also available on Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr.