While the population of the small village of Nagoro in south-western Japan has been in decline for decades now, an army of scarecrows has popped up and outgrown the population of those still left behind.

The population has dropped from around 150 in the 1960s to around 20 today. The population growth in scarecrows has been the work of one woman: Tsukimi Ayano.

Ayano has been making the scarecrows by hand ever since she moved back to the village to help care for her mother. She made the first life-sized doll to resemble her father 13 years ago. She then made more, and couldn't stop.

Originally, the scarecrows were created not to fill the emptying village, but to do exactly as their name suggests: scare away crows from her crops.

The scarecrows - or dolls - are built on a wooden base, with newspapers and cloth used to fill them out. They are often dressed in hand-me-downs, and the ones propped up outdoors are lined with plastic to keep them dry.

Nagoro, like many villages in Japan's countryside, has been hard hit by the younger generation fleeing to the cities for work and leaving mostly pensioners behind. Its greying community is a microcosm of Japan, whose population has been falling for a decade and is projected to drop from 127 million to 87 million by 2060.

At 65, Ayano is among the youngest residents of Nagoro.

The only school in the village was closed down in 2012 as the entire building was only being used by two children who were about to graduate.

Replicas of those last two students, the teachers and even the principal were added to other scarecrows that now sit silently in empty classrooms,

Tourists have started to come too, drawn by the two lifeless delegates guarding the road leading to the village, next to a board identifying Nagoro as "Scarecrow Village".

Ayano is happy to show her work to visitors, as long as she is not disturbed while watching her favourite television soap opera. On her daily rounds, she walks around the village bidding her motionless creations a good morning and tends to their needs.