Namahage Demon Masks
In Akita, in the north of Japan, there is a peculiar tradition on New Year’s Eve. In villages and town across the prefecture local families will be visited by scores of demons, dressed in straw rags carrying buckets and weapons. These demons will do their best to scare the children of the family into promising to behave and not be lazy. I have never seen this tradition in real life but in Aoyama earlier this autumn I got to see a few of these demons dressed up for action! I can only imagine the terror experience by Akita children, but everyone I have ever met from the prefecture was perfectly pleasant and hard working so maybe the demons actually work! They are called Namahage (生剥), which fittingly comes from the name for the burn you get if you are lazy and spend too much time under the heated tables, the kotatsu, in winter.