Oni Kenbai Mask - Black
Oni Kenbai Mask - Black
Oni Kenbai Mask - Black

Oni Kenbai Mask - Black

Regular price¥14,000
Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way

Oni kenbai is an ancient folk art that has been handed down in the central and southern parts of Iwate Prefecture for generations. Its name translates to "Oni Sword Dance."

Dancers perform a fierce dance in white, red, blue, and black oni-like masks, whirling to the driving rhythms of drums, whistles, and bells. Then, having appeased any vengeful ghosts and evil spirits with their dance, the people pray for prosperity and good fortune. Though the masks themselves are demon-like, they actually represent a personification of the Buddha, which is why they have no horns.

Each mask color is said to have its own meaning. 

White mask: West, Autumn, the guardian deity of the West 
Red mask : South, Summer, the guardian deity of the South 
Blue mask: East, Spring, the guardian deity of the East
Black mask: North, Winter, the guardian deity of the North 

Oni kenbai masks are made with Narushima washi, a washi paper specific to Iwate Prefecture, which is also the northernmost washi tradition in all of Japan. 

 Studio: Hariko-ya Hanjiro
Origin: Rokuhara, Iwate
Dimensions L22 x D7cm x H26
Weight: 155g
Materials: Washi paper

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Hariko-ya Hanjiro

an enchanting folk craft floating between "hard" and "soft"

Hariko is a general term for objects made by molding wet washi paper and painting on it. It covers a wide range of items, such as folk toys, dolls, masks for religious ceremonies, and everyday items, among other things. The technique is believed to have originated in China around the 2nd Century and has 1000 years of  history in Japan, with countless techniques practiced around the country. Hanjiro Sawafuji mainly uses an ura-bari (reverse molding) technique to shape his hariko. Once they have dried, he paints them by hand, resulting in irresistibly cheerful and expressive pieces. 

Hanjiro Sawafuji uses an ura-bari technique to craft his hariko. Washi is layered from the inside of the mold, rather than the outside, resulting in a smooth surface to paint on.  

a passion for hariko

Hanjiro Sawafuji is a second-generation hariko craftsman, continuing the tradition of Rokuhara Hariko in Iwate Prefecture started by his father over 60 years ago. Combining his traditional hariko techniques with more systematic study of sculpture and various experiments, Hanjiro Sawafuji makes diverse hariko works that are playful and free, yet at the same time rooted in tradition and technical mastery. His subject matter ranges from classic hariko motifs that date back centuries, to animals inspired by a simple potato shape he saw.

Mr. Sawafuji formerly worked under the name of Sawahan Kobo (Sawahan Studio), and once decided to retire. It wasn’t for long, however! His passion for crafting hariko and making things was too compelling, and he soon came out of retirement to restart under the name of Hariko-ya Hanjiro, featuring his own name, rather than studio, as a statement to pursue more of his own personal creativity.

When we visit him in Rokuhara, it is always amazing how wide his knowledge is and how eager he is to experiment. We are very honored to deliver his works far and wide at Oshinsha.

More from Hariko-ya Hanjiro


Here are some of frequently asked questions. Feel free to talk to us via bottom-right chat icon for further assistance!

Yes, we ship worldwide with DHL. Shipping cost is calculated at the checkout, depending on the products’ weight and the destination.

After your order is confirmed, if the ordered products are in stock, we will ship it in the following business day. Then with DHL, it typically takes 3-5 business days.

We include care & maintenance leaflet with our products. Apart from that, feel free to ask us directly anytime!

When our products arrive in your country, you may be required to pay customs. These are charges payable by the customers, amount depending on the total amount of purchase.