Nagorow Village is in the Iya Valley on the Island of Shikoku, just south of Honshu in Japan.
Once a prosperous village Nagoro much like other parts of rural Japan , has suffered badly from underpopulation and urban migration. The area surrounding Nagorow is known for its rich history and lush forests and valleys, even the typhoon weather that greeted us on our arrival couldn't take away from the epic landscapes.
Our trip to Nagoro was one of the most welcoming and touching experiences of our trip to Japan.
After an arduous and windy drive we pulled up in the carpark of what was once the school. To our surprise we were waved inside by a woman at the door and entered a small school room with several villagers and over a dozen dolls.
We were told that the village was once full of people but after so many of them left, one of the villagers decided to repopulate the town with dolls, now everyone in the village joins in. Each doll is handmade and has a different character, some are imaginary and some are of villagers who are no longer alive. The village is now populated with more dolls then people, they can be seen waiting for busses,, waving by the roadside, working in the fields, the shop and the garage or just sitting by the river. It's thought that these dolls, having been made with such love and care, come to life at night while the rest of the village sleeps.
It wasn't until a German blogger came across the town a few years ago and posted about it online that they started to get inquisitive visitors which brought some life back to the village.
We were shown how the dolls are made, and some beautiful old photographs of the village from when they were young, and then were were encouraged to stay and have tea and snacks with them as we tried to converse in scraps of Japanese and English.
This was such a heartwarming experience and I highly encourage anyone else thinking of visiting Shikoku to take the drive to Nagoro.