Gigantic guardian masks “Oningyosama” along old Iwaki Highway in Tamura City, June 5, 2017 (田村市 磐城街道 沿いの お人形様 2017年6月5日)

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Today, I visited three of the traditional gigantic guardian masks in Tamura City. They have been called “Oningyosama” all of which are located along old Iwaki Highway between Miharu Town and Iwaki City. The tradition started as early as early 1800’s and the purpose was to guard against epidemic of bad illness. Photo above was one of them, which was called Yakata Oningyosama located in Yakata village along the road.

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These two description boards shown above were at the Yakata site. They said that the original mask was made in 1808. In the early 1800’s there were actually five of these gigantic masks in different places along the old Iwaki Highway and they were referred to as “Goningyosama” which meant five of these masks. The large wooden mask, 4-meter high, accompanied by hair and beard made with cedar leaves and straw-plaited body, has been remade every year in April. So it’s rather new in this time of the year. Local preservation group called “Yashiki” helped this maintenance work.

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Yakata Oningyosama was placed on a small hill about 100-meter apart from the road as shown above.

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The next one was called Honokibashi Oningyosama which was located in Honoki village. It could be seen high up on a hill as shown above from old Iwaki Highway.

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Description board on the site and close-up view are shown above. Original mask of this site was made in 1854.

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The last one was called Horikoshi Oningyosama which was place within the precinct of Akashi Shrine, Horikoshi village as shown above.

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Description board at the site and close-up view of Horikoshi Oningyosama with its roof on top are shown above. The board said this mask was the oldest. All of the three locations were within Funehikimachi district of Tamura City.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can trace the route and altitude in the map below.
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