Woman makes dolls to replace people in her village


This has the makings of horror film.

Dad turns his back for a minute. Baby gone; doll in stroller.

Wife wakes up, looks over her shoulder, sees a doll in bed rather than her hasband.

Kid covers his eyes, counts to ten. Goes looking for his friends. Finds dolls.


Or a Twilight Zone episode.

I could swear I’ve seen that exact kind of plot in a movie or TV show once, and it’s been bugging me ever since I read the post title that I can’t remember where I saw it.

I wonder where she gets all the clothes from? Did the villagers leave them behind? Do her supporters donate them? Maybe she just buys them? She’s drawing some sort of pension, I assume?

A really interesting project. It’s like ultra-modern art in the sense that it’s a giant installation and the town becoming the “gallery,” and like folk or outsider art in methods. She seems to be considering all the philosophical questions that modern or academic artists do, too. It is personal and without any pretense. All art ought to be more like this–created as a function of living, an extension and reflection of one’s environment, and accessible to anyone who is interested. I’m pretty jealous, actually–this is great.

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.


Or at least a cult melodrama that inspired a sequel/parody written by Roger Ebert.

Japan has thrift stores, like everywhere else. If anything, their thrift stores are significantly cheaper than other developed countries. Just don’t go looking for vintage denim.

Japan has an all round reputation for being super expensive, but outside of central Tokyo or the tourist trail, living is surprisingly cheap. I think that many ‘cost of living’ surveys use globalised brands to get some sort of parity between countries, or are comparing an ‘expat executive’ standard of living. Even in Tokyo, you can get pretty full on meals for 500-800 yen, and if you hunt out the dodgiest places, you can get a bucket of ramen, or a beef rice bowl for 300 yen ($2.90).

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