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  • Shona McCarthy

Namahage: The Ogres of Japan


(Borrowed from GaijinPot.com)

Over time, it seems that Yokai, or the traditional folkloric creatures of Japan are becoming more popular. One of those creatures is the Namahage. Men will often dress up as Namahage for festival times in Japan, scaring children into good behaviour, particularly in the Akita region of Japan. And to this day, one can visit to see these rituals being performed.

It turns out that there is a Namahage themed restaurant in the Ginza district of Tokyo. You can see their official website here. But they look like a lot of fun to visit! They put on a Namahage performance twice a night, every night. They also deliberately serve dishes from the Akita region of Japan to stay on theme. This means you still have a chance to see Namahage in action if you only have time to see Tokyo. However, they are currently closed till the 20th of June 2021 since Japan is in a state of emergency. The footage above, however, still provides us with a taste of what a visit to that restaurant will hopefully be like once Covid is over. However, if you would like to see what an authentic Akita Namahage festival looks like you can see that here:

You can see an additional video here published by a Japanese tourism board itself:


In Oga, Akita, a festival is usually held every week in February from Friday to Sunday, enacting some of the behaviours in the footage above. This is one of those things Akita is immensely proud of, and it is a drawcard for tourism in their region. As the result, they have a kind of Namahage college where you can learn everything you would need to know to perform Namahage rituals. Or, for a shorter but still educational experience, you could go to see the Namahage museum. I talk in other posts about why Akita would be an excellent place to visit, and I think the Namahage concept sweetens the deal if you're into all things strange and spooky.


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