Namahage Sedo Festival is the winter festival of Shinzan shrine in Oga city, Akita prefecture, held in the second weekend evenings in February, which is one of the “Michinoku (Tohoku area) five major festivals”. This festival started in 1964 as a mixed event of a Shinto ritual, “Saito Festival” and a folk event, “Namahage.” Namahage is also the name of Raiho-shin (a messenger of god in Shinto) who warns a lazy mind and gives good health or abundant harvest. Some local young men disguise as Namahage with demon-like masks and costumes.
In the fantastic atmosphere of the snow and the dim light, Namahages perform a powerful impressive dance and Japanese drum. The climax is Namahages’ climbing down the snow mountain. A lot of Namahages go down the mountain bravely, holding fire torches, yelling phrases like “Are naughty kids around?” or “Are there any crybabies around?” Seeing Namahages walking wildly in front of them, children often begin to cry with fear.
In 2018, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registered Namahage as an intangible cultural heritage (ICH) including other Raiho-shins in Japan. Thanks to this registration, it is expected that more and more people visit Akita in winter and enjoy Namahage Sedo Festival.
|DATE||2019.02.08 – 2019.02.10|
|ACCESS||40 minutes by bus from JR Oga Station|
|POSSIBLE FACILITIES|| Wifi
Optional “Local Guide”
Day 1: Departure
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