Saturday, April 11, 2020

Kanmai Masks at Hirakiki Shrine

One of the things I am always on the lookout for in my wanderings in the back country of Japan, are masks. Being a mask-maker myself, though admittedly somewhat lapsed, I look for the unusual and diverse that can inform my own masks.....

At Hirakiki Shrine in the far south of Kagoshima Prefecture I hit paydirt. They had 24 old wooden masks on display. In a back room I also saw a collection of newer masks that the priest let me in to view, but today here are some of the old ones.

I wish I had talked with the priest more, but what I have been able to find out is that the masks were worn for Kanmai, which translates as "god dance"... they don't use the word kagura. There used to be a lot more dances performed, but some still are, in October.

Traditions in this part of Japan were usually somewhat different from mainstream Japan.

I'm sorry I didn't ask about the names of the masks....

Need to get back there and do some research..... one of these days.....

Buy Handmade Masks From Japan


  1. Would love to know the names of these kanmai masks if you ever return there.