It sounds like the setup for a horror movie, but Nagoro is a very real village in Japan where the population of scary life-size dolls outnumbers that of humans. Hundreds of families once populated the Japanese village, but declining birth rates have left it almost deserted, with only 35 residents remaining.
The dolls are being made by 65-year old Tsukimi Ayano, who moved back to Nagoro after years of being away to take care of her father. Ayano has slowly replaced residents, who’ve either moved away or died, with these life-size knitted dolls.
The empty 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. There are currently about 350 dolls in Nagoro.
Ayano brings one along for company on her 90-minute drive to buy groceries in the nearest big town. But most remain behind, to be photographed and marveled at by tourists who detour through the winding mountain roads.
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.