The Valley of Dolls is a short documentary about a 64-year-old Japanese woman who replaces townsfolk who die or move away with hand-sewn, life-sized dolls. The documentary was put together by German photographer, journalist and artist Fritz Schumann.
Ayano Tsukimi is one of only 37 people living in the village of Nagoro in the Iya Valley of Shikoku in Japan. The rural village's population was once in the hundreds but shrank in size as the elders passed away and youngsters relocated to urban areas.
Tsukimi keeps the town's 'population' afloat by sewing a life-sized doll the likeness of each person who dies or moves away, and places the doll in a part of the village that was important to that person. Nagoro is now home to 350 such dolls that pose as if they're waiting at bus stations, tilling the fields or fishing. “When I make dolls of dead people, I think about them when they were alive and healthy,” Tsukimi says in the documentary.
The Valley of Dolls paints a fascinating and poignant picture of Tsukimi and her hand-sewn creations.