You ugly Oga you ( honesty in Japan ) 

Thoughts on just how Japanese culture produces citizens who are normally very law abiding , making it a particularly safe country for travellers. It has been said that the old term , ” finders keepers losers weepers ” never gained any ground in Japan. I have regularly left my bike , possessions and campsite without any real fear that anything untoward may occur.

Left Yurihonjo in cool temps after a nice nights camping and headed for a place called Oga. It’s another Spa type onsen town and booked a hotel to enable another full charge of electrical stuff – batteries of various sorts. Was a lovely days ride and only 88 kms so I could take it real easy and stop and explore. Sun warmed things up and the nice smooth roads with a gentle breeze made the going easy . Then I started to see these ugly statues and wondered if they may actually be ” Oga’s”

Outside my hotel more Oga’s and inside some pretty cool Ogas too. No one here speaks English so I battled to get an answer to what this was all about. The key was finally given to me — NAMAHAGE . Part of ancient custom that still survives with annual festival at new year where the NAMAHAGE visits household to admonish misbehaviour of children. Probably scares the living shit out of them.

In ancient times the namahage’s purpose was to admonish laggards who sit around the fire idly doing nothing useful.One of the refrains used by the namahage in the olden days was “Blisters peeled yet? Thus “Fire rash peeling” is generally believed to be the derivation of the name namahage.

An obvious purpose of the festival is to encourage young children to obey their parents and to behave, important qualities in Japan’s heavily structured society. Parents know who the Namahage actors are each year and might request them to teach specific lessons to their children during their visit.The Namahage repeat the lessons to the children before leaving the house.

Today, in Japanese schools, according to the Ministry of Education guidelines, students receive about one hour a week of “moral education” over the course of their first nine years of study. Lessons cover 76 topics divided into four categories regarding self, relationship to others, relationship to nature and relationship to group and society, and include lessons covering a wide array of themes such as courtesy, consideration, friendship, modesty, contribution to society, respect for other cultures and more. For the lessons, teachers pick a few related values and integrate them into a wide variety of projects 

Today’s lovely lunch — only in Japan art is food 😊

Few random pics from my day in the saddle 

The Oga hotel has a very nice Onsen and I had a very relaxing hour enjoying the hot soak .

Saw this funny scene two days ago. The school kids have these special raincoats ( room for the backpack ) that made them look like a row of little hunchbacks as they plodded off to school in light rain . I was too late for the ” money shot” – the line of about 10 or so.

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