Festivals & Events
Namahage Sedo Festival なまはげ柴灯まつり
Photo copyright: Oga city
Welcoming the New Year with a visit from the gods
The Namahage Sedo Festival is one of five major snow festivals in Michinoku. It began at Mayama Shrine in Kitaura, Oga City, Akita Prefecture, in 1964 and is held for three days every year on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February.
The festival combines the 900-year-old Shinto ritual "Saitosai," which has been held at Mayama Shrine every year on January 3, and the folkloric Namahage event.
The dances of brave and powerful Namahage demons under the bush lanterns in the precincts of Mayama Shrine are a captivating sight.
- The sight of Namahage with torches in their hands coming down from the snow-covered mountains
- The goma-mochi rice cakes roasted on the Sedo fire and given out as good luck charms
How to Get There
This festival is held at the Mayama Shrine in the Kitaura district of Oga Peninsula, northwest of Akita City.
To experience the Namahage Sedo Festival in Oga City, take the JR Oga Line train from Akita Station. It takes about one hour to reach Oga City. A paid shuttle bus takes visitors from Oga Station to the festival site.
The Namahage Sedo Festival is a combination of the folkloric Namahage event with the 900-year-old Saitosai, a spiritual ritual held on January 3 each year
The Namahage carry wooden knives said to cut off damaged skin caused by sitting idly by the fire for too long
Demons on your doorstep
Other local folk events apart from the festival take place at the same time. On New Year's Eve, groups of youths dress up as namahage by donning masks and straw costumes called "kedeh." Carrying wooden knives and buckets, they go from house to house shouting, "There is no child who cries, there is no child who does not listen to his parents," and "The wife of this house wakes up early."
When the namahage receive rice cakes and sake from the head of each family, they leave the house. On their way out, the demons promise that the inhabitants will be blessed with health and a good harvest in the following year.
Information about the festival is subject to change. Please check the official website for details.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.