The famous Japanese masks

Japan has a long history with masks. Since the past, the Japanese wore masks, their legends were represented by masks, and even today, Japanese wear medical masks at the first sign of allergy or cold.

Most Japanese masks have their history, tradition and have been part of Japanese culture from the past to the present. Some are practical and others are just decorative. In this article, we will talk about the famous Japanese masks.

The main japanese masks

Let's start by introducing the main and most popular Japanese masks. Then we will see the most traditional masks that refer to legends, stories, spirits and Japanese creatures.

Recalling that in practically all matsuri (festivals) in Japan you will find stores selling masks of anime characters, animals and mythical creatures. Most are made of plastic especially for children.

Tokusatsu masks

Since 1970, series of tokusatsu like Ultramam and Kamen Raider has become popular in Japan, so it is possible to find several masks of these heroes and villains, mainly at festivals.

The famous Japanese masks

MENPO - The Samurai Mask

Samurai often wear masks in their battles, they are called menpō [面頬]. They were designed to protect the Samurai's face and spread terror in the enemy's heart.

Samurai masks were made by special craftsmen to suit the samurai's personality and preferences. Some had a demonic and frightening appearance, usually with mustaches, fangs and a big nose. 

They were usually made of iron and leather, with a small hole under the chin for sweat drainage. Others wore a menpo called Happuri, who only covered from the nose down, with a helmet that protected the rest.

MEN - Kendo Mask

Even practitioners of Kendo (way of the sword) wear a protective helmet. This armor mask is called “men” and usually protects the entire face, throat and shoulder. The name can also refer to a kendo blow to the head.


ANIMEGAO - Anime masks

Animegao It's a mask that looks like characters from anime and manga, with big eyes. Unlike common cosplay, the face is really a mask of the character.

Artists who wear these costumes and animated faces are often called kigurumi. Often these clothes and masks can be used to entertain children and young people at some events of the kind.

The masks of Japanese spirits

Oni Mask

Oni is a Japanese demon or ogre. Oni's masks, funny or scary. Japanese rural festivals often involve residents wearing oni masks in a mischievous race through the streets.

The famous Japanese masks

Kitsune - Fox Mask

Kitsune [狐] means fox. According to Japanese traditions, foxes are messengers of the goddess Inari. It is common for the gods to appear as foxes in legends. Some even appear as beautiful women to deceive humans.

Hyottoko and Okame

Hyottoko is a mythical spirit represented by a mask. Stories linked to Hyottoko differ widely by regions. In some places he was a boy with a funny face that produced gold from his belly button.

In all variations of the myth, Hyottoko is a lucky spirit with a funny face. Hyottoko plays a role in a series of traditional dances as a clown with stupid steps.


Okame is the female version of Hyottoko. The two have funny faces and are often seen together as a couple. Okame is generally seen as a goddess who generously spreads fortune.

Hannya mask

Hannya are female demons similar to oni, but with horns. Hannya masks are used in Noh theaters. They are often portrayed as extremely fearful and jealous characters. The Noh theater also has several other masks besides Hannya.

The famous Japanese masks

Tengu Mask

Tengu [天狗] are fantastic creatures of Japanese folklore, a kind of elf whose legends have traces of both Buddhist and Shinto religion. They inhabit forests and mountains. The Tengu’s most striking physical traits are their long noses.

Most of them also have a beard. Some Tengus have bird heads; these were considered great martial artists. Tengu masks are used in a variety of festivals and are a popular ornament for decorating temples, businesses and restaurants.


Kappa Mask

Kappa are river monsters that attack swimmers and enjoy challenging humans in Sumo. They are usually mean, but they keep their promises.

We recommend reading our article on Kappa!

What did you think of the article? Do you know of other popular Japanese masks? We appreciate the comments and shares!

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7 thoughts on “As famosas máscaras japonesas”

  1. Ótima matéria. Super explicadinho e com ótimas imagens!
    Será que você saberia me dizer o nome desse tipo de máscara (se é que realmente existe…)?
    Elas sempre aparecem em Natsume Yuujinchou, um anime que particularmente considero como uma obra de arte, não só por sua beleza, mas por sua sensibilidade. Mas voltando a máscara. Elas aparentam ser de pano, ou papel de arroz . Já procurei o nome delas e não acho… no fim acredito que tenha a mesma serventia das de cerâmica. O curioso é que muitas das vezes não existem ideogramas pintados, apenas um desenho com o conceito do youkai. Se você souber algo sobre elas, ficarei realmente feliz se puder me dizer. Obrigada! E parabéns pela matéria, adoro esse tipo de informação!!!

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