top of page

The Legend of Oga’s Namahage

999 Stone Stairs and the Namahage

Photograph 09/01/2011

The Namahage Legend of Oga Peninsula

This time, I visited the gate of the Oga Peninsula in Akita. There is a legend about a demon called "Namahage."

Long ago, the Emperor Wu of Han came to Japan with five demons. The Emperor allowed the demons to be free for one day, and they caused mischief such as destroying fields and kidnapping daughters, tormenting the villagers.

The troubled villagers made a bet with the demons: if the demons could build 1000 stone steps in one night, they would offer a daughter, but if they failed, they had to leave the village.

The demons started building the stone steps with great vigor. The villagers, surprised by their progress, imitated the crowing of a rooster when the demons had built 999 steps, making them believe that dawn had arrived.

The demons, frustrated, pulled out a large cedar tree, stuck it upside down into the ground, and left.

Afterward, fearing the demons' curse for deceiving them, the villagers began an annual event where they disguised themselves as demons, went around the village, and then returned the demons to the mountains after offering them a generous feast.












Open PDF

bottom of page