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Namahage
True Namahage
Background
Purpose To encourage good behavior and not be lazy, insolent or crybabies
Country Japan

The Namahage is a Japanese boogeyman. People will often dress up as them to scare their children.

Legend[]

On the night of December 31, a band of adult volunteers--parents, teachers, clowns, whoever may be craving the sweet taste of a child's fear--dress themselves as shaggy, knife-wielding ogres and visit families door to door. It's sort of like grown-up trick-or-treating, except instead of yelling "trick or treat!", they're threatening the lives of little kids for all their disobedience over the past year.

Anything goes, really, so long as it strikes terror into little hearts. During each visit, parents get to gleefully play along as far as they're willing to go, stopping the 'devils' just short of dragging the kids away by mercifully promising that the kids will behave themselves and offering the monsters free sake and mochi (sticky rice cakes) instead.

Luckily, the Namahage themselves are actually well-meaning, and they return the children to the parents unharmed. In addition, the Namahage rewards the children who behaved during New Year's Eve and the full past year in general, as well as congratulating the parents for having well-behaved kids, as well as being hard-working, and rewards them with good fortune and prosperity, and as a gift, the Namahage made sure that the families' crops will thrive and survive. Plus, they also praise newlywed couples for not doing any sinful activities.

The Namahage have a true legend about them in the Oga Peninsula, and those who are really lucky will have access to the room where the Namahage masks are made. The festival named after the Namahage is the Namahage Sedo Festival.

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