Did you enjoy your Golden Week holidays?
If you have traveled anywhere within Japan or overseas, please share with us your interesting stories!
This time, let us introduce Akita Prefecture.
One of the most famous events in Akita is Namahage, an old tradition that has been handed down in Ojika Peninsula. Namahage is a divine messenger who descends from a mountain on New Year’s Eve and roams around people’s homes asking “Is anyone bad-mannered?” and “Is anyone crying?” Namahage yells very loudly when it enters the houses by wearing a mask of a devil while holding a kitchen knife in its hand, so the majority of the young children get surprised and cry their eyes out. However, Namahage is by no means a devil, but rather a provider of good fortune as it eradicates calamities. At any rate, Namahage is undoubtedly terrifying for children, thus they try their best to behave well. In addition, parents warn their children that Namahage will come if they do not behave well. We could say that Namahage plays an educational role in Akita.
Akita is also renowned for being one of the lead producers of rice. You may have heard of the local dish kiritanpo (mashed and grilled rice skewered on a chopstick). It is shaped like a chikuwa (fish sausage), and is eaten in various ways such as boiling it in chicken broth or grilling it with miso (fermented bean paste). You could possibly imagine families sitting around irori (a sunken hearth) and enjoying their nabe (Japanese hot-pot dishes). There are many restaurants that serve kiritanpo, and they are especially popular among tourists. Nowadays, kiritanpo can also be purchased outside of Akita at supermarkets or online, thus able to enjoy traditional dishes of Akita wherever we are.
Namahage and kiritanpo are both typical winter traditions in Akita. Although it is already spring, why not keep this article in mind and visit Akita next winter to experience the traditional event and local cuisine?