Monday, September 16, 2019

Not the Village of Dolls


On my first day walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage I left Taizoji Temple and the Kumano Magabutsu and started north along the road. The first few days of the pilgrimage I was going to be roughly following the old shugendo pilgrimage route around the Kunisaki Peninsula. Not far along the road I came across these figures by the side of the road dressed as pilgrims.


I thought the figures were just connected to the pilgrimage, but then a bit further up the road I spied this female figure with an old couple back at the abandoned building.


The group of skiers made it clear that these were another example of the kinds of "dolls" that are appearing all around Japan in depopulated areas, the most famous of which is Nagoro in Tokushima that has received masses of international media attention.


While Nagoro is the most famous, I have seen such figures in amny places on my walks around the hinterland. They have been developed out of scarecrows. I remember about 18 years ago walking in the mountains in my home area and coming across a big group of brightly decorated figures in some small rice paddies by the side of the road. It was called a scarecrow festival.


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