Nagoro: The Bizarre Japanese Village Where Dolls Replace The Deceased

It’s no secret that Japan is a beautiful country worth exploring. It offers the best of both worlds: modern cities and untouched nature. However, if you are a lover of weird and creepy travel areas, then there is one place in Japan that you would especially enjoy.

Nagoro is a small mountain village in Shikoku that’s almost exclusively populated by life-sized dolls. Why, you might wonder? Due to Japan’s decline in population, combined with the fact that a lot of people choose to live in cities over villages, this stunning place became a ghost town.

That’s why local artist Tsukimi Ayano decided to create this doll village. Eleven years ago, Ayano returned home to her beloved Nagoro. Due to the fact that Nagoro was left almost empty, she decided to populate the village with dolls. Each doll represents a former resident who either died or moved away. Today, about 350 life-sized dolls “live” in the village.

How it all started

The first doll Tsukimi created was that of her father. Not long after that, she decided to replace the other members of her family with lifelike dolls. She is still creating dolls, even more than ten years later. Every doll is placed where the represented person would naturally be. So as you go around the village, you’ll see these dolls hanging around. Whether placed in the fields looking like they were working or at the river holding a fishing rod. Even the local school is filled with a few dozen dolls that are patiently waiting for their teachers to start the class.

The few remaining human residents of Nagoro picked up on the idea as well, and soon every corner of this village would be filled with life-sized dolls. While the majority of them are based on former inhabitants of this place, there have also been some fictional dolls added to mix things up a bit. Today, Nagoro is also known as Doll Village or Scarecrow Village (Kakashi-no-Sato).

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Additional information

On Shikoku Island, Nagoro is situated in the stunning Iya Valley’s easternmost section. This location would be best explored by car, but it’s possible to get there by train as well. Consider the fact that by most Nagoro is referred to as “Scarecrow Village.” There are also other ways to reach this village such as buses or taxis. Due to the fact that Japan has some amazing public transport options available, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

However, we do have some bad news for you if you wanted to spend the night at this unique place. Even though there are plenty of empty homes there, there isn’t any accommodation available to spend the night directly in the village. At least not yet. So your best option would be to plan a one-day trip or to spend the night somewhere nearby.

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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