Namahage in second bid for UNESCO list

posted on January 5, 2016

Another effort is underway to pad UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list with a tradition in which people dressed as god-like demons visit homes near the end of the year to bring good fortune.

The effort is led by the northeastern city of Oga, Akita Prefecture, which is renowned for the visits by the so-called Namahage deity. But it failed in an earlier bid to have the ancient custom registered by the U.N. body because a similar event in southwestern Japan was already on the list.

In Oga, young men wearing fierce-looking masks resembling imaginary demons known as oni and straw capes visit each house in a neighborhood block on New Year's Eve and shout out questions to determine whether there are disobedient children or lazy persons inside. Wielding wooden knives, they scare children with their loud voices.

They are plied with food and drink and leave the house promising the family will be blessed with good health and fortune.

source by japantimes
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