How one dying Japanese village creepily came back to life

It all started when Tsukimi Ayano returned home: She had moved to Osaka when she was still in school, and she'd gotten married and had children.

It was nearly empty: The village, which once had a dam and a population of 300 people, had dwindled to less than 40.

An aging and disappearing community: With little reason for immigration, as young residents left or old ones passed, there was no one left to fill their void.

Quietude birthed a crazy idea: Ayano had a unique solution for her problem.

She made her first scarecrow around 15 years ago: It was initially to frighten off birds pecking at seeds in her garden.

The first one was in the likeness of her father: People started interacting with the scarecrow, thinking it was actually him in the fields. Ayano's next idea surprised even herself.

She decided to make more: Ayano started creating life-size doll replacements for each of the former villagers. 

More than a decade later, she’s still making them: The hand-sewn creations are frozen in time, creating a tableau of daily life.

They're all from her memory: Each doll is placed specifically where Ayano remembers them most clearly, like this perpetually fishing figure.

There are 10x more dolls than humans: Without the warmth of nostalgia, the surreal village often seems creepy.

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