Oga Peninsula, in the western part of Akita, juts out into the Japan Sea in the shape of an ax. Along its coastline are fantastic views of crags and boulders, and it is noted for its beautiful sunsets. There is also an interesting local event, the Namahage. Let’s learn more about this off-the-beaten-path location in Japan!
There are so many spots on the Oga Peninsula that you should not miss. The view at the Mt. Kampu Revolving Observatory at the base of the peninsula, where you can enjoy 360-degree panoramas of the Japan Sea and Lagoon Hachirogata, is simply stunning.
Hachirogata used to be the second-largest lake in Japan with a size of 220 km2, only Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture was larger. It used to be a brackish-water lake because the river water often flowed backward, but through a big project of land reclamation by drainage most parts of the lake have become land to create farms and a village called Ogata-mura. So now you only see water around the village, at what used to be the location of the rim of the lake.
The reclamation started during the Edo period, but it was only on a very small scale during those days. The big project only started in 1957 and took 20 years to be finished. The purpose of the project was to increase the production of rice and provide more places to work. Many people came to work here from all over Japan by applying after a public invitation went out. Now, there are about 3,000 people live in the village.
Scenic Points of Oga Peninsula
You will find the Godzilla Boulder in the southwestern part of the Oga Peninsula. It was named so because of its shape, and how can a tour of Japan not include a visit to this famous monster? The first Godzilla movie was made in 1954, a little before the Hachirogata project started.
For some amazing natural vistas, you should go to the west coast of Oga, with its long line of rude cliffs and rocks; Hachibodai, with the best views of Oga and if the weather is clear all the way up to the Ou Mountain Range; and of course, the Nyudo-zaki Point on the tip of the peninsula, with its spectacular view of the Japan Sea.
A sightseeing boat leaves from the nearby Oga Aquarium. From here you can get a great view of the coastline that is sprinkled with strangely shaped rocks and bizarre stones. They look like magnificent sculptures that nature has created.
The Namahage Event
Oga Peninsula is also famous for a traditional event called Namahage. During this time young people disguise themselves as ogres. They visit houses, especially the ones with children, to admonish lazy people, expel evil spirits, ward off disasters, and bless people. Namahage shout “Is there any crying child?” and “Is there any naughty child?”. Many small children then start to cry because it is very scary, but this is seen as a kind of blessing.
There is a museum called Namahage-kan. They exhibit masks and outfits of Namahage. The outfit is an overcoat made of straw. They also show a video of a Namahage event so you can see how this traditional event is held. The entrance fee is 550 yen (275 yen for under 18). It is open from 8.30 am to 5 pm every day.
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