Namahage (Demon) Museum
Unleash all your demons.
Japan has its fair share of legends, monsters and mythical beasts. However, over the centuries, few have ever had anything like the longevity, intrigue or wide-ranging appeal of Namahage. Namahage is an oni, a giant and fearsome demon, common in many Japanese folk tales. He is primarily associated with Oga City, Akita Prefecture.
Today, his red-faced, angry visage can be seen emblazoned across t-shirts, stationery and all manner of other souvenir goods throughout Akita. However, to get the complete picture on this loveable demon, a visit to the Namahage-Kan (Namahage Museum) is a must.
The museum itself actually has a number of different rooms, dedicated not just to Namahage, but also to the history and folklore of his birthplace, the Oga Peninsula and Shinzen Mountain.
The Shinpi Hall takes you back to Oga’s past. Computer interfaces offer an interactive journey as you take a tour around various artifacts and tools from simpler times. Center piece to this exhibit is a miniature forest, which combines real trees with interactive panels and screens. Most striking among the many items in this room is a traditional style boat carved out of an entire tree. In the past such boats were commonly used by the village fishermen.
Next up is the main event, The Namahage Seizoroi, The Namahage Exhibit. Here, you’ll enter a hallway full of Namahage monsters, decked out in their colourful Oni masks, straw coats and brandishing a variety of weapons.
And as you head towards the back of the hall, the lights dim and you’re in for a big surprise! OK, so you’ve got up close and personal with Namahage and lived to tell the tale, so why not have a go at becoming an Oni yourself?
The final room of the main exhibit is the Namahage costume booth, giving you the chance to get masked up, put on your straw clothes and enjoy a photo opportunity you’ll never forget.