Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Certified

The Ojika City Tourist Association has created an entertainment program run by "Namahage Evangelists." Ojika City is in Akita Pref. and is home to a unique event called "Hamahage" -- a traveling show of actors reenacting plays of demons and folk tales. The show moves from house to house in the city, exposing kids to the rich cultural heritage of Ojika peninsula -- and sometimes scaring kids in the process!
To become a certified evangelist, you need to pass on exam -- the first of its kind in Japan. Hopeful actors sit the exam on Nov 27 each year. Questions include knowledge about the history of Namahage, facts about the performance, and origins of the masks. Prior to sitting the exam, applicants must join a tour of the Namahage museum and attend 3 and half hours of lectures.
In certification crazy Japan, a program like this is probably a good idea and a possible blueprint for other villages and cities around Japan which are suffering from migration to the cities.
If you're interested in graduating as a Namahage evangelist, the application fee is JPY3,000 and lecture JPY3,000. Reservations can be made by calling 0185-24-4700!