I learned about this place through a video that made the rounds on Facebook a couple of years ago. In a remote area of the Iya Valley was a place called Nagoro. Once a bustling little place, it is now home to only around 35 people…
and over 300 scarecrows.
The woman who created all of the scarecrows moved back to Nagoro to look after her father. Her first scarecrow was actually of him! Some of them are real people; friends who have moved away or neighbors who have died. Some are people she made up.
When I saw that video I had no interest in going, and when my friend practically screamed in excitement when they realized that the village was located between the two vine-bridge sites in Tokushima (our sightseeing goals for the day), I still had no interest in going. I was overruled, however, and we amended our plan to include a stop in the village.
I’m so glad we did.
Driving to the village I was still a little unsure of what to expect, but this place is literally impossible to miss. You’re driving, driving, driving when suddenly scarecrows just start appearing. I stopped the car in an open area by a lot of firewood, and everyone jumped out of the car. The first scarecrow I saw was (creepily) holding a chainsaw.
I looked around and saw ones working in their gardens, fixing their roofs; some (including one that looked like Donald Trump) were even waiting for the bus.
It was silent, with the only sounds being our hushed voices and the occasional car passing through. This, coupled with the light sprinkling of rain, led to a rather spooky atmosphere. It was hard to figure out what was a scarecrow and what was a human! Many times I found myself expecting a person to suddenly appear or a scarecrow to begin moving.
Eventually, we made our way further down the road. We parked again at an open building with many scarecrows inside. Across the road and over a bridge was an old-looking school. I’d seen reviews that said that there were more scarecrows there, so we headed there next.
Only the gym was open when we went. Inside there were many scarecrows dressed for occasions like 運動会 (the Sports Day) and 文化祭 (the Culture Festival). A few scarecrows were even holding a wedding ceremony! Once we were done taking pictures, we headed back outside…
…and heard the quietly eerie sound of children singing…
Where were those voices coming from?! Check out my post「 ロバのパン」 to find out!