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Oga Peninsula

Discover the legend of the Namahage

About Oga Peninsula
Photo: Editorial Staff / JT

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About Oga Peninsula

The Oga peninsular lies on the western coast of Akita prefecture, along the Sea of Japan. Whilst primarily known for the local Namahage legend—a traditional custom every winter—the region is blessed with nature and a long coastline.

Namahage is the name given to the demonlike 'ogres' (in costume) who, as messengers of the mountain gods, visit local villages in search of lazy individuals, whilst blessing each household and warding off evil spirits and disasters in the process. It is an enjoyable spectacle to watch – if you're not a young local still unused to the Namahage's sudden visits!

For visitors, the best time to witness them is during the Namahage Sedo Festival, held every February at Shinzan Shrine. It combines elements of the household visits held over the New Year, along with other traditional and visual festivities, such as a Namahage dance, drumming and a Sedo bonfire.

During other times of the year, the Oga Namahage Museum (and adjacent Shinzan Folklore Museum) are well worth a visit – allowing visitors to learn about the local custom and experience a live-action re-enactment of a Namahage's visit.

Elsewhere, Mt Kanpuzan's summit heralds a rotating observatory well worth experiencing, providing magnificent views of the peninsula. Godzilla Rock offers a unique sight to behold, especially during a sunset with the Godzilla silhouette standing tall against an orange sky. Many more locations dominate the Oga Quasi-National Park