Life After the Namahage (Living in Akita, pt. 1)

  Akita is beautiful. Not just the countryside landscape- littered with buildings of various architectural inspirations neighboring each other in stark contrast, covered in forestry, ongoing fields and seemingly never ending mountain ranges- but the culture that has developed here over thousands of years.
  Akita is known for its beautiful farmland and delicious fresh food, but also for a deep cultural tradition, with numerous festivals that can’t be found anywhere else in Japan, like the Kanto festival, where groups of people raise poles covered in lanterns and carry them through the streets on various body parts.

Akita International University Kanto Team lifting a Kanto Lantern

  Many festivals are mixed with ancient folklore traditions, such as the Namahage Sedo Festival, in which the Namahage, ogre-like demons, come down from the mountains to scare children who’ve done wrong into being good. The deep tradition and beautiful land are two of the main reasons I wanted to learn here; and since coming here, I haven’t regretted it for a moment.

Cafeteria Namahage

  As for myself, I’m a junior student of World Language and Cultures, studying Linguistics and East Asia. As such, I’m glad for the opportunity to come to Japan, where I can actively engage myself in my studies, using the languages I’m studying and seeing how they interact in an environment like Akita International University, where the people are both incredibly linguistically and culturally diverse, with over ten percent of the students being international, and constant interaction between them.

Myself and an ascribed Stone, by the Mitake Shrine

  I’m excited to apply both my (albeit minimal) knowledge of Japanese and my knowledge of linguistics as I live in Japan for the coming months, with fellow students from all over the world. Until next time, 頑張って!

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