marunouchi omotesando kobe

What is the Namahage in Japan!?

The Namahage on New Year's eve is traditional local custom of Akita prefecture in Japan, and is designated as national important intangible cultural property.

An ogre called Namahage go on rounds of people's homes to admonish a lazy person. He has a deba knife and a tubwith wearing ogre mask and straw closh. Namahage was almost unkonwn custom in the past, but it became famous custom by media because of visual impact.


The origin of Namahage is skinning Namomi which means a scald because of stove in Akita prefecture accent. Namahage admonishes a lazy person who don't work and always settle in front of fireplace in winter. He has a deba knife to skin, and has a tub to gather Namomi.

On the other hand, Namahage exorcizes an evil spirit and bless New Year's Day. Namahage is also known as a joy-bringing spirit from the divine realms from this.


In particular, the Namahage say "Are there any crybabies around?" and "Are naughty kids around?" with behaving violently in a house. The master of a family apologises earnestly and treats liquor. When Namahage ask him something, the master of a family must say No.

After that, Namahage says "Crap your hands three times in front of the tree of shrine when there are crybabies or naughty kids. Then, I come." Namahage gets out a house with saying "I'll come bank next year.", and go to the next house.

namahage and alchol drink

Namahage likes liquor, he drinks it off when he is treated it. Namahage drink enormous amount of liquor in one night. The person who play a role of Namahege need to be a heavy drinker. In that respect, there are many heavy drinkers because Akita prefecture is a well known production area of rice wine(Sake). Aramasa and Shirataki is famous rice wine made in Akita.

By the way, there is the Namahage museum near the standing statue of the Namahage which is about 10meters(33 feets) tall. This museum exhibits many items of Namahage. The two Namahage are in this museum, and welcome the visitors. Visitors can take a photo with them.

When you travel Japan on New Year's eve, it might to be a good idea to meet Namahage. If you travel only tokyo, you can see Namahage in the restaurant named Namahage in Ginza. He shows two times in a day.