Nagoro Village in Okuiya, which is at the far end of the Iya region, is where many of these dolls can be seen. This village, which is also known as “the village in the sky” for being at such a high altitude so close to the sky, has over a hundred handmade life-sized dolls in traditional Japanese farm work clothes and daily wear in various locations both indoors and outdoors. There is a growing number of tourists from all across the country and overseas who come to see them.
The dolls started to become famous when an international student from Germany visited the area in 2014 and uploaded a video of them. These dolls are actually scarecrows for warding off animals from crops grown in paddies and fields, and the scarecrows in Nagoro Village have been made by hand for over ten years by one woman in her sixties.
The faces of the dolls are made of cloth and their bodies are wooden frames wrapped with newspaper and dressed in unneeded clothes. Most of them last only three years at the most because they are placed outdoors. Over three hundred and fifty have been made over a course of thirteen years, but there are about a hundred in existence today. Each doll has a unique expression on its face and is located in an appropriate location for the role it plays such as the mayor or a schoolteacher. They also have their own names and Nagoro Village even has a population registry for the dolls. The village with these dolls that give off a warm feeling from being handmade is now called “the home of scarecrows”.
Tokushima Prefecture is a prefecture in western Japan’s Shikoku, which is one of the four main islands of Japan. The Iya region is in a mountainous area around the center of the prefecture and is known as a hidden scenic spot where legend says that it is where a band of warriors who lost in a power struggle around the end of the twelfth century stayed hidden. Nearby are the Iya Valley, where you can enjoy beautiful sights that change by season including the green of spring and summer, the red leaves of autumn, and the snowy white scenery of winter, the Oboke and Koboke valleys, hot springs inns where you do not have to stay overnight to enjoy bathing, and more.
Nagoro Village (the home of scarecrows)
Address: Higashi-Iya, Miyoshi City, Tokushima
Access: About 2 h from Tokushima Station to Awa Ikeda Station by JR Tokushima Line. About 1 h 50 min from Awa Ikeda Station by Shikoku Kotsu bus to the Kubo bus stop, and transfer onto a Miyoshi City bus. Get off at the Nagoro bus station after about 25 min.
The Iya region has a village of scarecrows that is rare worldwide. Take in the scenery here that you cannot experience anywhere else while enjoying the beautiful valleys until you reach your destination!