A 64-year-old Japanese woman in a small and isolated village has made hundreds of life-size dolls that look like people there who have died or moved away.
That woman, Ayano Tsukimi, spoke about her unusual hobby in the documentary “Valley of Dolls,” produced by Fritz Schumann and posted recently on Vimeo. Tsukimi said when she was a child, hundreds of people lived and worked in the village, but over time the population dwindled to just 37 residents.
Ten years ago, Tsukimi made a scarecrow resembling her father after she planted seeds that failed to sprout. Since then, she has made 350 dolls that litter the roadsides, fields, and forests.
Some of the dolls look like they’re fishing beside streams and camping in trees with wooden hunting rifles. Dozens can be seen on Google Earth’s Street View feature sitting on benches, working in gardens, and standing with bicycles, as Verge has pointed out. The Nagoro village is located on the Japanese Shikoku island near the central western boundary of the Tokushima Prefecture.
At the village’s empty school, which closed down two years ago, Tsukimi has filled entire classrooms with fake students sitting at desks, as well as teachers and principals. She has even created a doll resembling herself to keep at her home.
“Not everybody likes my dolls, I think,” said Tsukimi, her Japanese translated to English in the documentary. “Even if they don’t say it directly, some may feel frightened because they look so real.”
However, the dolls have attracted real people who visit them to take photos.
Although most of the dolls appear to have smiles, that doesn’t stop them from looking creepy. Even Tsukimi acknowledges it would be easy to change their expressions. “The lips are difficult,” she said. “A little tweak and they can look angry.”
You can watch Fritz Schumann’s interesting documentary below.
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