Hidden away in Japan’s Iya Valley, along route 439 lies one of the countries most mysterious and best kept secrets. The once populous village of Nagoro (名頃かかしの里 in Japanese) is currently home to over 350 full size scarecrows. This contrasts to just 30 actual living residents. Japan’s scarecrow village once had a population of nearly 400, however the local economic situation has meant that most residents have moved towards the cities in search of work.
Resident Tsukimi Ayano was born in Nagoro, but moved away with family when she was young. She returned to Nagoro about 15 years ago to help care for her elderly father. When she returned she placed a scarecrow of her father’s likeness in a field outside her house. After that she kept on producing scarecrows. Each scarecrows is based on a local resident who has since left the town or passed away. Each Scarecrow is positioned where the living villager spent their time.
The villages’ school shut in 2012 when it’s only two students graduated. Ayano has since filled the old building with her scare crows which she dressed with old students clothes.
Nagoro is located in the south of Japan, the nearest major entry point is Osaka Kansai, although you can fly internally from Osaka or Tokyo to Kochi Airport if you don’t fancy a 4 hour bus ride.
Getting to Nagoro
You can explore the village on googlemaps here however for the full effect and atmosphere you really need to visit the village yourself.
Getting to Nagoro, Japan’s scarecrow village is easiest by car. If that’s not possible, you can get a bus from Osaka Kansai Airport to Awa Ikeda Bus Terminal at a cost of ¥4500 (Approximately $45 or £35). You’ll still need to find a taxi to take you the rest of the way though. That’s unless you can persuade one of the area’s friendly residents to give you a lift for the last couple of miles.