Giant Supernatural Creature Mask: Japan Photo of the Month (November 2011)
November’s Japan Photo of the Month is from a weekend trip to an onsen hotel in west Shizuoka prefecture. Right by the hotel was an interesting area with a large Buddha statue on a hill and one even hidden in a cave! On the same hill is Kanzanji Temple. Inside the temple, I saw (actually how could I miss!) this…
Originally I thought it was a mask used in kabuki (traditional Japanese play). However after some research, it is much more interesting than that!
The red-faced, long-nosed, as-tall-as-a-person sized mask is that of the Tengu.
Tengu are mythicaly creatures which over the centuries evolved from menacing demons to protective spirits. Tengu have a rich history deeply rooted in Chinese and Japanese religion. This one is wearing a small black cap (called a tokin) as they often mimic the appearance of priests.
This Tengu mask is most likely used in festivals or perhaps as a portable shrine.
You can read more about this interesting spirit at the Tengu Wikipedia page.
Very cool and colourful. Tengu (天狗) are supernatural creatures found in Japanese folklore and worshiped as minor Shinto gods (kami).