If you are having a trip through Iya Valley on the island of Shikoku Japan, don’t get scared if suddenly many people show up next to the streets in an area which is usually kinda deserted. Probably, these people might seem a little creepy. But there is a reason behind it…
Those people are not human! Well, obviously there are no zombies walking around in Nagoro. Those are simply dolls. Scarecrows to be exact. But how did they get here?
Nagora used to be a village full of people. But after the dam of Nagoro, which offered many jobs to the locals, was completed, many inhabitants left Nagoro and moved to the cities around looking for work. Those dolls were made by one of the remaining inhabitants of this little village, Tsukimi Ayano. to remember the old times, in which Nagora was still full of life.
The first doll she made was actually meant as an actual scarecrow and was looking like her father. Little by little she started filling the village with dolls for everyone that left and even adding some new characters. After the small school in town was closed she also filled this one with “new students”.
Unfortunately, you can only visit the inside of the school on weekends. But you can have a glance through the windows to get an idea what is going waiting for you inside. Anyway, on the other side of the street, you find a room that looks similar to a classroom which you can visit anytime.
The scarecrows really brought new life to the almost abandoned village. Especially because they attract tourist to visit this little place in the middle of the Iya Valley.
You will find them everywhere around the village of Nagoro. Some of the dolls are just randomly sitting around, others seem to follow different kinds of activities, such as fishing, reading newspapers or being in school.
The only drawback is that the village can be kind of hard to reach without your own car. Public transport just gets here once a week. That’s why you will mostly find local tourists here. As for Europeans, it can be really difficult to rent a car in Japan. We made it there by hitchhiking with a super sweet Japanese couple. (You can read our chaotic hitchhiking story here)
Another reason why this place is not crowded with tourists yet is that actually many people are scared of these dolls. Our Japanese friend Kana told us that many Japanese people are not really pleased by seeing human-like dolls as they can be quite creepy. Well, to be honest, it indeed was a pretty weird feeling walking around Nagoro. Sometimes it can actually feel like the dolls are watching you… And when you turn around, most probably there is just one of the about 350 dolls of this village looking at you. So it’s understandable some people may get a little paranoid while walking around Nagoro.
But all in all, we had so much fun with those scarecrows. I mean, you don’t have to go there around nighttime, do you? At least during daytime, those dolls seem cute and innocent. Thus, a visit is highly recommended by us.
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