Date: 18：00 ~past 20：00, second weekend (Friday~Sunday), Feburuary every year,
Location Shinzan shrine, Oga city in Akita prefecture
Acces: It takes about 50 minutes from Akita to Oga by Oga Line. From there, take the toll shuttle bus for about 40 minutes.
Namahage is the most famous of all the traditional events that use traditional masks. Originally, this event has been performed only in a very limited area, the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture. But now it has become a representative icon of Akita Prefecture, welcoming passengers at Akita Station alongside the Akita Dog and Kanto Festival (the summer festival). It can be classified as a “visiting god” event. Like Santa Claus, he appears only at certain times of the year to bring good fortune to the people. Most of the original events take place on the night of New Year’s Eve, and since Namahage groups visit private homes, it is difficult for anyone outside of the community to see them. Therefore, as a tourist project, the festival was created in 1964 by combining the original festival of the Shinzan shrine with Namahage. This is the Sedo Festival.
There is a designated train (only on weekends) and a regular train to Oga station, and a paid bus service from there. Buses run sequentially as soon as the seats are full.
The venue is the Shinzan Shrine, a short walk from the parking lot. If you arrive early, there is also the Roadside Station called “Ogar” (front of the Oga station) and the Namahage Museum near the venue. The Namahage Museum is a must-see. Not only does it have Namahage goods, but it also has over 100 Namahage from around the region on display.
The event starts around 6:00 in the evening. There will be a reenactment of the Namahage event, Namahage dancing, Namahage drumming, etc., and finally the highlight will be when the Namahage come down from the mountain with torches. This is followed by a rampage of Namahage in the village, where various Namahage used in the actual region appear. You are welcome to take pictures with them, so don’t hesitate.
However, there is one thing to note. This is the middle of winter. Akita Prefecture is known for its heavy snowfall. Therefore, there is so much snow that you can sink into the snow up to your ankles in Akita City, while at the venue the snow is trampled and hard as ice, making it very slippery. Be sure to take precautions against the snow!
On the way back, the bus will take you to Oga Station or Oga Onsen (hot spring). You are going to arrive in Akita around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.
It’s not a bad idea to relax and unwind at Oga Onsen. The hot spring would surely relax you in a snowy landscape in the middle of winter. Don’t let yourself be troubled by the Namahage coming into in your dreams.
Prefer: https://discoverdeeperjapan.com/2020/02/07/namahage-sedo-matsuri/ Namahage Sedo Matsuri
https://oganavi.com/sedo/en/ Official site