Tour Japan's eerie, surreal Valley of the Dolls
The Valley of Dolls is a haunting village where dolls outnumber living people 10 to 1. The creator of these dolls, Ayano Tsukimi, is one of the last residents to give up on the nearly abandoned ghost town of Nagoro, Japan. Most of the population has either died or migrated away from the once booming town, but Ayano Tsukimi is replacing them with life-sized dolls in each person's likeness and scattering them around the whole valley.
The film maker Fritz Schumann recently documented this unusual place, and the results are truly eerie.
It seems that locals feel a little torn about the dolls. "I actually asked all the people around what they think of the dolls and her maker, but no one wanted to say something in front of the camera. Everybody I asked is a bit afraid of the dolls, but they also know that they attract attention and visitors, so they accept them," Fritz Schumann wrote.
She estimates that she has made about 350 dolls, "though she isn't even sure about that... she doesn't makes them to count them and sometimes she even forgets about some until she sees them again," wrote the documentarian Fritz Schumann.
Ayano Tsukimi started making dolls 10 years ago. The first doll she ever created was a replica of her father.
Ayano Tsukimi says, “When I make dolls of dead people, I think about them when they were alive and healthy.”
Ayano Tsukimi says the hardest part about the dolls is making their mouths. With a slightly wrong stitch the dolls can look angry.
But she says she is particularly good at making grandmas.
Ayano Tsukimi says, “The dolls are like my children. But the dolls don’t live as long as humans. They can only live three years max." She is married, but lives apart from her husband and daughter who reside in Osaka. She continues to live in the old village house of her family.
Perhaps one of the most eerie scenes in the village is the abandoned school house. When it closed down it only had two students left, so Ayano Tsukimi filled the classrooms and hallways back to the brim with students, teachers, a principle, and even parents.
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Ayano Tsukimi has even made a doll of herself. She says, "I don’t think about death. I don’t think dying is scary. I’ll probably live on forever."
What's your emotional reaction to the Valley of Dolls? Would you ever visit it? Comment below!