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In Akita, Laziness is Admonished at the Namahage Sedo Festival

Namahage Sedo Festival is a winter festival held at Shinzan Shrine in Oga City, Akita Prefecture.
"Namahage" are masked representations of deities who visit the shrine at the turn of every year. While warning against laziness, they also protect against sickness and disaster, as well as bear tidings of plentiful harvests with the bounties of the mountains and the sea.

Their majestic and powerful wild dance around the bonfire held on the grounds of Shinzan Shrine attracts people from all around!

Namahage really pack a punch!
Namahage really pack a punch!

Oga-no-Namahage, a New Year's Eve Tradition

Every year on New Year's Eve, the young men of each village in the area dress up as Namahage and go around the local homes with children, shouting in loud voices if any crybabies are there or if there are any kids who don't listen to their parents. They also demand to know if the young woman of the house wakes up early, and the homes that are visited by Namahage maintain the tradition of politely offering them food and drink.
In 2018, Oga-no-Namahage was recognized as an Intangible Asset of UNESCO World Heritage.

Oga-no-Namahage
Oga-no-Namahage

The Highlights of the Namahage Sedo Festival

Among the many highlights of this festival are Namahage dance and drumming performances as well as a re-enactment of the Namahages' home visits!

Re-enactment of the Namahages' visit (Performance)

6:35pm- At the Kaguraden stage
Observe a traditional New Year's Eve in the Oga area. Every year, the Namahage go from house to house, visiting the children. See this performance on the Kaguraden stage.

The Namahage Dance

6:55pm- In front of the Sedo bonfire
Watch a soul-stirring dance from the Namahage. It was created in 1961 by modern dancer Baku Ishii, from Akita, and his son, the composer Kan Ishii.

Namahage Daiko Drumming

7:05pm- At the Kaguraden stage
Namahage Daiko Drumming is a folk tradition combining Namahage and Japanese drummers. They play giant drums while wishing for peace to the household and a good harvest.

Namahage Daiko Drumming
Namahage Daiko Drumming

Distributing Goma-mochi and taking commemorative photos

-8:30pm In front of the Kaguraden stage
Cut rice cakes are distributed to the audience by the Namahage in front of the Kaguraden stage. These rice cakes are said to prevent misfortune.

*Note: Using items such as umbrellas, camera tripods, and stepladders is not allowed.

Websites introducing "Namahage"

Basic information on Namahage Sedo Festival

OPEN
Address
Kitaura Shinzan aza Mizukuisawa 97, Oga City, Akita[MAP]
Location
Shinzan Shrine
Tel
0185-24-9141 (Oga City Tourism Division)
Dates
February 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2019
*Held yearly on the 2nd Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February
Hours
6:00–8:30pm
Admission
1,000 yen
WEB
URL(English)

At the Namahage Museum, look at displays of actual Namahage costumes, or try one on and take a picture to commemorate your visit to Oga City, Akita!

Basic information on Namahage Museum

OPEN
Address
Kitaura Shinzan aza Mizukuisawa, Oga City, Akita[MAP]
Open
All year round
Hours
8:30am - 5:00pm
Admission
500 yen
WEB
URL(English)