The Oga Peninsula is a peninsula that is located in Akita and juts out into the Japan Sea. The area offers more than just the axe-shaped peninsula. The Oga Peninsula is also connected with the legend of the namahage which is a folk tradition held every year on December 31st.
The Namahage Festival
This festival is an old tradition that takes place on New Year’s Eve. The purpose of this tradition is to scare children and wives into good behavior. The young men of the area get dressed in ogre masks, wigs, and straw dresses and go to houses creating a big noise and scaring children. The rural communities on the Oga Peninsula each have their own stamp that is placed on the straw dress that the men wear.
Namahage Museum and OgaShinzan Folklore Museum
The Namahage Museum is still young and was built in 1999. It features a large variety of figurines that are life-sized and wearing the masks and straw-dress that men traditionally wear on New Year’s Eve. A range of papier-mache and wooden masks are displayed and range from Disney scary to horrifying. You can learn about the history of the tradition and do some souvenir shopping.
The OgaShinzan Folklore Museum is next to the Namahae Museum and functions as a small theatre. Re-enactments of the home visits and the conversations that follow the rowdy entrance are held on the stage. It is a way to explain the tradition.
Oga Aquarium GAO
The aquarium is located on the rocky coastline of Akita and hosts all kinds of sea life indigenous to the area as well as an Amazon section and even a polar bear. Definitely a great place to visit if you are travelling with your children.
Sites and Scenes
The Oga Peninsula offers many more sites and scenes. The Shinzan Shrine is one to visit and learn about the NamahegoSedo Festival that takes place there. The Mt. KampuRevlvong Observatory is another one to see. It is located at the base of the peninsula and you can see the Japan Sea and lagoon all around you. A tourist favorite is the Godzilla Boulder which is a piece of rock that looks like the movie monster.You can take a sightseeing boat from the aquarium to continue the sites and scenes on the water.
Clearly, the Oga Peninsula, like most of Akita Prefecture and its surrounds, has a lot of history, culture, and beauty to share. A visit to the peninsula may take a whole day if you want to see everything, but we guarantee that it is worth it. So, put it on your list of hotspots and places to see.