Wow! Wow. It always blows my mind to see central Shikoku featured prominently. I taught English in elementary/junior high schools for 2 years in western Tokushima Prefecture between 2005 and 2007, about an hour's drive from the Iya valley (distance-wise, they weren't very far, but the roads were narrow and very winding). Even in my town (at 16,000 people, it was the "district seat," but still not huge), you'd see some of these dolls, and more along the drive through the mountains; I'd thought they were cute and a little surreal. I had no idea this is where they came from!
I can definitely see how you all see this as a little creepy. But as somebody who lived in this indescribably beautiful place, in a town nestled into a river valley between two rows of low and lush mountains, and who witnessed the very real impact that Japan's greying population crisis has on these far-flung towns, I see a lot of warmth, nostalgia, and sadness in this, and feel some of the same.