The traditional event of the Namahage that is told in Oga
On the night of New Year’s Eve, the Namahage, a demon-like figure, visits residences and shouts out in an eerie voice as he enters “Are there any lazy people about?!” before he tramps about the house as he yells loudly. He is a messenger of the mountain gods but he is truly a frightening presence as he wields a huge knife. To appease the rampaging Namahage in the house, the owner politely offers a meal and a drink to the demon and after they banter, the Namahage prays for a year of good harvests and good health for the children before leaving with a warning “I’ll be back next year!”. This event was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Property and annually on December 31st, this traditional ritual is held over most of the Oga Peninsula. It has been introduced to the entire nation by media such as TV, and the sight of screaming and crying kids when they see the Namahage visiting on a snowy New Year’s Eve has even become a seasonal thing in the Akita region.
The folklore museum which reliably relates the event of the Namahage
At the Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum, the region’s quintessential thatched-roof house known as a magariya is recreated, and the museum is popular since visitors can experience the gravitas-laden event of the Namahage all year round. In particular for Shinzan District, this old tradition is famous for solemnly continuing and being faithfully recreated to be related to future generations so that it has also been recreated at the museum. Also, folk materials such as the customs imbued in the Namahage and agricultural machinery are also on display so that visitors can also learn about the lifestyle of people back in the old days. There is also a museum, Namahage-kan, on the same site which goes into Namahage in detail so it’s recommended to tour both facilities.