World’s ‘most haunted village’ is full of creepy dolls that have replaced humans

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    A village where deceased or long-gone residents have been replaced by scarecrows sounds like the setting of a horror film, but it's actually a real place you can visit.

    In fact, the village of Nagoro is allegedly one of the "most haunted" destinations to visit around Halloween, according to TravelLocal. While many apparently haunted hotspots – like the McPike Mansion in Alton, USA – play host to invisible spirits who make things go bump in the night Nagoro is a bit more unusual.

    For a start, it’s filled with creepy dolls which have replaced the human residents. The village seems busy with people in the fields, sat at school desks or walking to the shops the majority of the residents of Nagoro are actually scarecrow-style dolls. Known as the "Cursed Village" the village is filled with 350 life-size human models.

    READ MORE: 'I accidentally moved to 'most haunted town' – I've felt ghosts and heard screams'

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    The dolls outnumber the living residents by more than 10 times. Only 30 people still lived in the village when Tsukimi Ayano moved in so she decided to fill the empty space with the dolls instead. While the models weren’t created to be scary they add an "uncanny valley" vibe to the entire village. The dolls, otherwise known as ‘Kakashi’ or scarecrows in Japanese, are there to help combat loneliness (rather than keep birds away).

    Inside the village dolls gather at bus stops, sit on the front porches and work in the fields. Some dance together at a party while ‘workmen’ wear hard hats and get some rest outside a house.

    Crafter Tsukimi Ayano, known as the "Scarecrow Mother", is behind the weird and wonderful creations. Tsukimi was born in Nagoro but moved away, eventually returning in 2002. Upon her return, she found that most residents had left to work in the city, and the population number continued to dwindle as older residents passed away. (In 2019 it was estimated that there were less than 30 people still in the village) – which is why she re-filled it with her dolls.

    Some of the models are also a tribute to residents who have passed away. Each Autumn, around this time of year, the village hosts a Scarecrow Festival complete with a photo competition (the winner receives their own scarecrow), as well as scarecrow-making workshops. While the dolls and village never aimed to become a tourist attraction they now see plenty of international guests make the journey to the remote Iya Valley to visit every year.

    The village has also featured on TV, including 2014 documentary Valley of the Dolls, as well as an appearance during an episode of James May's travel series Our Man in Japan.

    Huw Owen, co-founder at TravelLocal comments: "Whether you’re a horror fan or not, these destinations have some truly fascinating stories and legends behind them which are certainly worth exploring if you are visiting these countries. What we consider to be 'evil' spirits are also interpreted very differently around the world in different cultures. That said, there are plenty of lesser-known 'eerie' activities you can get up to as well, throughout the year."

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