Nagoro, Japan – the village with toy residents


Nagoro is a tiny Japanese village with one very notable feature: a life-sized doll population that outnumbers the human population nearly 10:1. The toy residents are the work of local Tsukimi Ayano, who began making doll replicas of her neighbors after they died or moved away.

Once working in the garden, Tsukimi made the first doll in the likeness of her father and then she came up with the idea to replace the other family members with similar dolls. A few years later, her work continues.

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Made of straw, the bizarre dolls are dressed in old clothes. The dolls can be seen in various positions across the town – fishermen sitting on the riverbank, students filling entire classrooms, elderly couples resting on benches outside of buildings.Other dolls include three men sitting at the base of a telephone pole on the outskirts of the village, a man fishing in the river, a group in a bus shelter, and utility workers performing roadwork.

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The village has become a tourist attraction and is now known as Nagoro Doll Village. There are now around 350 dolls and 27 breathing humans (the youngest is over the age of 50) in Nagoro, making it a quirky and somewhat terrifying toyland. The nearby Nagoro Dam was completed in 1961 and is used for hydropower generation. In 2020, the village was featured in the final episode of James May: Our Man in Japan, where James was made a scarecrow based on his likeness.

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