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New Year’s Eve with the Namahage

In Oga, ogre-like deities traditionally visit houses on New Year’s Eve: it’s Oga Namahage Festival!

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On the night before New Year, strange deities with kitchen knives in their hands visit houses, in Oga city, Akita prefecture.

Behind Namahage’s grotesque masks (red for male deities and blue for female ones) are two or three youths from the city who keep the tradition of this ancient festival alive. On top of masks, they wear long straw raincoats with a waist-band, a woof knife, and a pail.


At night, they visit houses and shout weird cries while dancing and yelling “Are there children crying?” “Are there children disobeying their parents?”.

The Namahage are welcome by head of families in formal dress who offer them sake and mochi. When appeased by this hospitality, they leave the house, blessing the family for good health and crops, and go to the next. 


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  • Culture & traditions
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