If you follow the map to a place far, far away,
You will find a town where the people are a little different than usual.
They are life-sized dolls!
This is Nagoro, Shikoku, Japan, the Town of the Dolls! (Not really a valley, but valley sounds scarier).
The residents welcomed us immediately, although some of them were a bit green in the face.
It's all very sad. The town's hydro electric plant used to drive jobs and a population. But with Japan's aging, and the fact that this place is 1.5hrs mountain driving from a grocery store, the population has been slowing leaving or dying.
So the local artisan reincarnated the residents as "scarecrows", as they're called in Japanese. So, you know, dolls of dead people!
They do useful jobs, like tending to the overgrown fields.
Barry made a few friends.
This is the bus stop, where we saw an actual human (not shown), which made me shriek inappropriately.
Each doll has a unique facial expression, as they go about their business.
I tried to be helpful. In the background is another actual human driving an police car, making sure the dolls are behaving.
Like in any community, there are some shifty characters.
The dolls have taken over the community centre, where kids are putting on a play, and there is either First Aid training or some kind of injury.
In another house, there is a doll wedding. This was my first Japanese wedding!
For doll families, life goes on, very slowly.
Imagine how star struck I was when we got to make the master dollmaker! Sadly, she could not answer my numerous questions, since I haven't learnt enough Japanese.