A popular tourist spot to feel Japan Vol.19 Traditional cultures rooted in locals “Namahage” in Oga Peninsula, Akita
“Where is a crying child!?
Where is a bad child!?”
In the New Year’s Eve, loud voices are sounded in houses of Oga Peninsula, Akita Prefecture.
It’s a tradition in Oga Peninsula that local young men imitated to be a messenger of God named
by wearing a mask of the Devil and a straw raincoat to visit houses.
Namahage enters into the house from the entrance, opens all doors and paper sliding doors, and hit them.
Some children are scared and cried by Namahage.
Because Namahage stomps on the tatami and moves a lot, it often falls “Kede”, that is the straw, from a straw raincoat.
And people believe that Kede has a luck that people stay healthy if they cover Kede on troubling position,
so that Kede should be remained until next morning.
Namahage prays for a good harvest and peace of the family, and then, say
“See you next year”
and go back.
People say applications to Namahage and see him off.
We can see warmth of a local traditional culture by this tradition.
From February 9th to 11th
“Namahage Sedo Festival”
was held that is a winter festival representing Oga.
It shows the events of Namahage, dances and drums by Namahage.
At the climax of the festival, Namahage comes from the snow mountain with his torch and walk around,
“Namahage Gezan (means climb down a mountain)”.
His heroic and mysterious looks shined by the torch attract people.
There are some more view points; “Namahage Museum” that exhibits 150 used masks of Namahage,
“Stable folk house” that is a typical Japanese traditional house in Oga region, “Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum”
that is able to experience Namahage culture.
Why don’t you visit Oga Peninsula in Akita next February?
Source of photos:https://www.namahage.co.jp/namahagekan/denshokan.php