Help wanted: Japanese ogres

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 26 2012 11:33 AM | Updated as of Mar 26 2012 07:34 PM

TOKYO, Japan - A small Japanese city is looking to hire a trio of "ogres" -- but only if they have a driver's license and basic computer skills -- to boost its profile as part of a post-disaster tourism push.

Oga city, 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Tokyo, said it will pay about $2,500 a month to people willing to travel around the city dressed as devilish gods known in local folklore as Namahage.

Traditionally, local men volunteered to wear ghoulish costumes as they visited homes on a usually frostbitten new year's eve, wielding butcher knives and roaring: "Are there naughty kids? Are there lazy fellows?"

The gods are said to guard against misfortune while bringing bumper crops and bountiful fish catches, but the practice has faded over the years.

Now, with a national tourism push after last year's quake-tsunami disaster, Oga city is looking to the tradition as a selling point.

Tourism officials and their friends have occasionally been donning horned masks and straw coats for special events. However, it has not been deemed enough especially since the full-time job requires that ghouls produce post-event reports.

Authorities now want to appoint three people to full-time positions.

"We had so far managed to get by ourselves," said Yutaka Sato of the Oga tourism office.

"But to really promote our tourism, we want to efficiently dispatch Namahage as the face of Oga city."