Japanese Artist Replaces Her Town’s Dead With Uncanny Dolls
Over the past 11 years the tiny village of Nagoro, Japan, has seen its population dwindle by the hundreds as residents have left for larger cities and died off. Over the same period the artist Ayano Tsukimi, one of the village’s remaining 35 residents, has created more than 350 dolls to repopulate her community, setting them up in schools, fields, forests, and backyards.
“When I was a child there was a dam here, there was a company, and hundreds of people used to live here,” she tells filmmaker Fritz Schumann in the short documentary The Valley of Dolls. “Now there are only 37 people living here, and many times more dolls.”
The profoundly uncanny village-wide sculptural installation has become something of a tourist attraction for visitors from other parts of Japan and German directors alike. In fact many of Tsukimi’s dolls can be seen by exploring the town on Google Street View.
She sowed the first of the lumpy, diminutive figures for very practical reasons, when she needed a scarecrow to protect her seeds. After making a doll that looked like her late father, she began making more. “I never thought it would turn into this,” she says. “I don’t like making weird dolls, but people who blend into the scenery.”
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