Speed Reads


In this Japanese village, residents who leave are being replaced by scarecrows

As the human population of Nagoro, Japan, continues to decline, the number of scarecrows in the small village is rising rapidly.

About 13 years ago, Tuskimi Ayano created a life-sized scarecrow in honor of her father after he died. In the years since, Ayano has made more than 350 scarecrows, which are on display in the streets and buildings of the village. Nagoro was never a large place, and there are just 35 people living there today, after many members of the younger generation took off for bigger cities. The scarecrows are now replacing those who left — the village's school closed in 2012 after its last two students graduated, so Ayano created scarecrows to fill the empty classrooms and hallways.

At 65, Ayano is one of the youngest people in Nagoro, and she has no plans to leave or stop making scarecrows. "I enjoy it," she told NBC News. Her goal is for the scarecrows to look so realistic that when "people look at them they have to look twice and say, 'Oh, that wasn't a person!'" —Catherine Garcia