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Namahage

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Legend

Legend has it that the Han emperor brought five demonic ogres with him to Japan a little more than two millennia ago. These oni, as they are most commonly called in Japan, stole crops and young women from Oga's villages.

One Legend states that the Namahage originated from China to Oga and caused the people much trouble. The citizens of Oga struck a deal between the people and the Namahage that if they could build a staircase with a thousand stairs for the main shrine in a single night, the villagers will supply them with a young woman every year. But if they failed the task they would have to leave.

The Namahage agreed and set to work. They were so efficient that by the end of the night they had 999 steps with only one stone left before dawn. One person, however came to the rescue and pretended to cry like a rooster. This signaled that dawn had arrived. The Namahage, believed they had lost, left and went into the mountains but they return every year to retrieve a young woman.

There are several other theories as to the origins of the Namahage. Another theory is that Namahage are derived from an ancient mountain deity. There are numerous native traditions of gods coming for a visit - though not quite with the fanfare for the Namahage. Another theory hints that the Namahage may be based on shipwrecked sailors from Europe. Given from when the festival first started, it could be that they are the ghosts of explorers or the Vikings. It gives light to the idea that they cause trouble by foraging raids and the bet with the supply of women.
Img namahage

Trivia

  • He is the 13th of the chosen 47 spirit warriors of Japan. He's the representative of Akita.

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