Abandoned Japanese village home to live-sized dolls

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Abandoned Japanese Village Home To Life-Size Dolls

A 64-year-old woman in Japan is credited with populating an abandoned village - but not in the way you'd expect.

Over the years, people have slowly left the village of Nagoro on Shikoku Island. There are only a few dozen people left, but thanks to one woman's craftiness, she's been able to populate the small island with a division of life-sized dolls.

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Abandoned Japanese village home to live-sized dolls
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, white smoke rises from an outdoor hearth at Tsukimi Ayano's house sat by scarecrows she made in Nagoro, Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains of southern Japan once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. At 65, Ayano is one of the younger residents of Nagoro. She moved back from Osaka to look after her 85-year-old father after decades away. “They bring back memories,” Ayano said of the life-sized dolls crowded into corners of her farmhouse home. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, Tsukimi Ayano stitches a scarecrow girl by her outdoor hearth at her home in Nagoro, Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. At 65, Ayano is one of the younger residents of Nagoro. She moved back from Osaka to look after her 85-year-old father after decades away. “They bring back memories,” Ayano said of the life-sized dolls crowded into corners of her farmhouse home. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, scarecrow passengers wait for a bus at a bus stop for scarecrows in Nagoro, Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains of southern Japan once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Tsukimi Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, Tsukimi Ayano stitches a scarecrow girl by her outdoor hearth at her home in Nagoro in Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. At 65, Ayano is one of the younger residents of Nagoro. She moved back from Osaka to look after her 85-year-old father after decades away. “They bring back memories,” Ayano said of the life-sized dolls crowded into corners of her farmhouse home. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, Tsukimi Ayano speaks as she stitches a scarecrow girl by her outdoor hearth at her home in the mountainous village of Nagoro, Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains of southern Japan once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. At 65, Ayano is one of the younger residents of Nagoro. She moved back from Osaka to look after her 85-year-old father after decades away. “They bring back memories,” Ayano said of the life-sized dolls crowded into corners of her farmhouse home. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
In this Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 photo, scarecrow teacher and students fill a classroom in the now deserted elementary school in Nagoro, Tokushima Prefecture, southern Japan. This village deep in the rugged mountains of southern Japan once was home to hundreds of families. Now, only 35 people remain, outnumbered three-to-one by scarecrows that Tsukimi Ayano crafted to help fill the days and replace neighbors who died or moved away. The closure of the local elementary school two years ago was the last straw. Ayano unlocks the door and guides visitors through spotless classrooms populated with scarecrow students and teachers. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)
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The handmade dolls are based on the people who have left - but their life spans are considerably shorter as each one only lasts three years.

Filmmaker Fritz Schumann featured the woman's ambitious art project in a documentary called "The Valley Of Dolls."

She says she's made roughly 350 dolls since she started more than a decade ago.

But that's not the only town where dolls outnumber people.

More than 23,000 dolls were displayed at an annual festival in Japan's Chiba Prefecture - which is home to just 20,000 people.

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