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  • A House Fit for a Samurai

    In a small mountain village in the mountainous region of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku just 27 adults remain. Yet the village is inhabited by about 350 life sized scarecrow dolls, doing various daily tasks that humans once did when the village was more populated. The aging of Japan is thought to be one of the country’s biggest challenges today. In 2014, 33% of the population was above the age of 60 and the problem is projected to increase. In small towns like Nagoro there are very few jobs for the young, the life is hard, with the nearest grocery store 1 hour away by car and roads that are often blocked by winter snow. Tsukimi Ayano, originally from Nagoro had raised her family in Osaka but when her father began aging and was alone she decided to move back. She first made a scarecrow out of necessity for her crops although since she is an artist she formed the face after her father. She soon began making more scarecrows and placing them around the town, juxtaposing them in various everyday positions of work and play, representing what humans once did in the village. Dolls overtake abandoned spaces and houses lie in Ruins as evidence of an aging nation.

  • Dolls depicting children in the classroom at the old school in Nagoro.
  • An abandoned house in the Kubo Community in Higashi Iya. As elderly die off and their children choose not to inhabit their inherited houses in the mountainous region, mainy houses are abandoned and look as though their inhabitants left in hurry, never to come back and reclaim their possessions.
  • An doll depicting an old woman in a wheelchair in the front yard of a house in Nagoro.
  • An abandoned house in the Kubo Community in Higashi Iya. As elderly die off and their children choose not to inhabit their inherited houses in the mountainous region, mainy houses are abandoned and look as though their inhabitants left in hurry, never to come back and reclaim their possessions.
  • Ayano Tsukimi lines the old pathway to school with small scarecrow dolls that have horns and depict mythical forest figures.
  • A fish tank outside of a home stands as a sign of life in an severly depopulated area where abandoned homes are commonplace.
  • Dolls assembled for a wedding in the old school gymnasium.
  • Dishes left drying in a dish rack at an abandoned house which shows the signs of former owners who were well off.
  • Scarecrow dolls depicted in the fields in the village.
  • A former music room at the Tochinose Elementary School which no longer has students and serves as a community center, which hosts cultural events and Karayoke twice a week for local residents.
  • Dolls line the main road in Nagoro, reflected in an abandoned storefront in which old advertisements still hang from the windows.
  • An abandoned house in the Kubo Community in Higashi Iya. As elderly die off and their children choose not to inhabit their inherited houses in the mountainous region, mainy houses are abandoned and look as though their inhabitants left in hurry, never to come back and reclaim their possessions.
  • Dolls are placed in position for the Annual Scarecrow Festival.
  • The swimming pool at Higashi Iya Elementary School, the only school in the region to remain open, with a dwindling youth population.
  • Dolls peer out from the entrance to the school in Nagoro which has been closed since 2012 after the last two students grew up.
  • A doll in Nagoro stealing walnuts from a tree.
  • A former music room at the Tochinose Elementary School which no longer has students and serves as a community center, which hosts cultural events and Karayoke twice a week for local residents.
  • Burried or abandoned cars and houses are not an uncommon site in Nagoro and surrounding villages which have also seen depopulation.
  • A wheelchair, an ominous sign in the entranceway of an abandoned house shows the signs of former owners who were well off.