Travel

​This creepy village has more dolls than people

When we told you about the creepiest doll island in all of Mexico, we never imagined there could be another, even weirder one somewhere else. Well, there is, in Japan. And it boasts an even eerier premise -- every person on the island gets replaced by a life-sized doll when they die.

Ayano Tsukimi, a 64-year-old artist, returned to her hometown of Nagoro on the island of Shikoku 11 years ago, only to find it more or less deserted. Of the hundreds of inhabitants who lived there during its heyday, only 37 remain today. 

So what did she do to jazz up the now quiet isle? Sew a whole bunch of Japanese Cabbage Patch Kids, that's what. Starting with a scarecrow that resembled her father, she has made around 350 dolls over the last 10 years. In an effort to breathe new life into the ghost town, every time someone moves or dies, Tsukimi creates a doll in their likeness.

You can even see the dolls scattered about on Google Street View, in fields and trees, by roadsides, and in forests; sitting on benches, waiting for buses that will never come, fishing, hunting, gardening, and biking. 

There are doll weddings...

...and even an abandoned school full of dolls eager to learn.

“I only think about the dolls”, Tsukimi says in Fritz Schumann’s Valley of Dolls documentary. “They are like my children”.

Okaaaay, then. 350 down, 37 creepy doll children to go.


Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle.