Japanese 'demons' scare children into good behaviour for the New Year

People wearing demonic masks and straw garments visited homes in Japan's northern prefecture of Akita on New Year's Eve to ward off evil spirits and invite good luck in 2019.

The Namahage folk ritual is one of the 10 traditional Japanese events added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list in 2018.

Eleven volunteers dressed up as Namahage deities to make the rounds of houses in a district in Oga City. The area revived the time-honoured rite after a hiatus of over 20 years.

In each home, the Namahage growled and asked if there were any children who ignore their parents.

Desperate-looking children held on to their parents and nodded to show that they promise to obey their parents.

Many communities in the city dropped the practice in recent decades, partly due to a shortage of volunteers to play the deities.

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