Monday, 6 August 2012

Oga Peninsula of Akita

At a tourist office near the small train station of Tsuchizaki one stop past Akita, we were directed to a reasonably nice restaurant (hopefully smoking will be banned soon). After lunch a pre-arranged taxi picked us up and took us for a tour of Oga Peninsula, Akita prefecture. Our first stop was at a 'namahage' museum. We were welcomed into an old home and asked to sit in a 'tatami' (rice straw mat floor) room. In another section of the tatami area two older men had a vigorous conversation in a local dialect (Akita or Oga 'ben' or dialect). Yayoi did not understand a word. Suddenly there was pounding on the walls and sliding doors and two "devils" wearing masks and straw outer clothing entered shouting. One of the two older men tried to calm down the devils. Food was offered to them, but they remained adamant that they be shown the children and that lazy daughter in law, who never gets up early and never makes breakfast. They had a book in which the names of misbehaving people were listed. They thrashed around us and one little girl seated next to me was terrified. She cried and screamed and tried to hide in father's lap.
Every December 31 devils such as these go around local villages and attempt to correct bad behavior. The residents of the peninsula are very proud of the variety of costumes and masks the devils wear. Each village had a unique costume. After visiting the museum next door our taxi driver took us briefly to the tip of the peninsula to see the Japan Sea and the markers for the 40th parallel.

Click on Oga Peninsula to see photographs on Picasa.

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