Kuro-shishigashira (black lion's mask) (Nagai City)
Historical black lion masks, called "Oshi-sama", are a symbol of the Shishimai dance which is held at 41 shrines.
The Kuro-Shishimai dance and Kuro-shishi lion mask production are said to have begun at the Somiya Shrine located in the Miya district of Nagai City during the late Muromachi period (1573). They were made at the request of shrines by local carvers and laquerers. Presently Shishimai dances take place at 41 shrines. Since the black lion mask when it decorates households is seen as a symbol of getting rid of disaster or misfortune, it is very popular among the local citizens of Nagai as it is given the honorary suffix "Oshi-sama".
With their long manes covering black faces and beards stretching down from their noses, Kuro-shishi masks have a unique appeal.
Nagai's black lion masks emphasize a stern expression, with a long mane covering the face, a beard trailing down from the nose, and googley eyes. Hand-carved lion masks are currently made by only a few people, including Mr.Masato Shibuya, who produces lion masks for festivals as well as for decoration by using local willow trees and yak hair from Nepal. Lion masks used in festivals are lacquered by Mr.Tadahiro Eguchi who lives in Nagai City.
●Furi-Shishi-gashira (Lion masks used for festivals at shrines) ●Kazari-Shishi-gashira(decorative lion masks for ordinary households)