East Asia

Japanese Namahage mask

These are widely used in many parts of Japan on New Years Day, making them one of the most popular masks you can buy. They are quickly carved and reasonably priced so everyone can afford them. But you won’t often see them in books, museums or important collections because they’re for the common people.

That may change. This terrifying demon-like deity has just made the United Nations’ Intangible Cultural Heritage list. During the holiday, wearing ogre masks and wielding huge knives, Namahage go from house to house shouting “are there are any crying or badly behaving children?”

Invariably, the answer is yes and often the tears start before they even get inside, because ominous drumbeats herald their arrival. What about the parents? Do they protect their children? No: they welcome them graciously with a special meal and sake, as the ritual acts as a blessing and invites good fortune for the region.

Get one for your collection before the price goes up. The colors are usually blue, red, black or white. Sometimes you can get them with the hair as well. A

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