Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Annual ink-smearing festival held in Gunma Pref

Children in a town in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, have smeared black ink on the faces of local residents to pray for good health.

People in Tamamura hold the festival each year, following a legend that anyone who has their face smeared with ink will enjoy good health. The event dates back about 300 years.

On Tuesday, a local man wearing a traditional long-nosed Tengu mask led about 200 participants, many of them children, on visits to houses in the community.

The children carried pieces of daikon radish dipped in ink. They entered the houses at the masked man's signal and smeared the residents' faces.

People in the homes gave sweets to the children as a reward.

A man in his 40s who had a black mark on his face said he was surprised by the cheerful children. He hopes to remain fit throughout the year.

An eight-year-old boy who took part in the event said it was fun, and he hopes to do it again next year.