Namahage Museum

Shunchan

Dec 8, 2016

Visit Akita Prefecture in northern Honshu on New Year’s Eve, and you’ll be lucky enough to catch the Namahage Festival.

Celebrated only in this area of Japan, it’s based on traditional folklore and has been designated as an important property that represents the spirituality of folk culture in Japan. In this annual ritual, a Namahage – a Japanese deity that looks like a demon (Oni) – removes bad luck and blesses the village houses it visits with good fortune.

You’ll find the young men of the village dressing up as Namahage, wearing their Oni masks and straw capes while armed with large knives (but I didn’t get too scared, as these are made of wood). Going from home to home around the village, they visit each household, and scold the kids who have behaved badly. Crying out “Waruiko wa inega” (“Where is that bad boy?”) or “Naguko wa inega” (“Where is that cry-baby?”), they’ll scare the kids into behaving better. You know, I often wonder if parents make ‘special requests’ beforehand.

If you’re visiting the area at a different time, you can still experience the festival at the Namahage Museum in Akita. There are exhibits and year-round Namahage performances here every 30mins, between 9:30am to 11:30am, and 1:30pm to 4:30pm.

You can even dress up like a Namahage… perfect for taking Instagram-worthy shots to show off to your friends! Definitely worth the trip, but if you’re travelling with children, they may be scared by the Namahage. Unless that’s your intention!

なまはげは鬼の表情をした神様の名前です。

伝統的な民族習慣、なまはげは不運を消し去り、年に一度家庭に訪問することによって幸運をもたらすと考えられています。なまはげは大晦日に秋田県の一部の地域で行われる伝統的な民俗行事で、国の重要無形民俗文化財に指定されています。村の若者が鬼のようななまはげ面をかぶり、藁をつけ、木製の包丁などを持って各家庭を回ります。

その際、彼らは、「悪い子はいねがー」「泣ぐコはいねがー」と奇声を発しながら各家庭を訪問します。一部の地域でしか行われていない民俗行事にも関わらず、日本では知らない人はいないほど有名です。なまはげ館ではなまはげの歴史や説明、そして、なまはげの格好も体験てきるので、ぜひ写真撮影を!誰もが知っている衣装なので友達に自慢できます!

なまはげの実演(9:30-11:30 & 13:30-16:30まで30分おきに実施)は必見ですが、小さなお子様は泣いてしまうかもしれないのでご注意を!

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