Have you ever seen mysterious masks when you came to Japan? Perhaps you have seen a mask called “Hyottoko”.
By any chance, “Hyottoko” and “Okame” have been popular as lucky charms for a long time. Perhaps the reason for their popularity is their expressions that make you laugh unintentionally. However, the origin of their faces is a little ambiguous.
On this page, we will confirm the meanings and origins of “Hyottoko” and “Okame.
What is the meaning and origin of “Hyottoko”?
Hyottoko” is a mask of a man with an open mouth and a frightened expression. This expression is also called “hiyottoko” or “hiyottoko face,” and is sometimes called a “squirt mask.
There are many variations of the hiyottoko, but they all have one thing in common: they give an interesting impression.
- Some have one eye that is smaller than the other.
- Many have a crooked mouth and a slanted mouth.
- Some have a pouty head and cheeks.
- When a Hyottoko mask is worn, it is often a cheek-biting mask.
The comical masks of the hiyottoko are common because of their role as clowns in dengaku dances and festival dances.
It is widely believed that the name “hyottoko” originated from the word “Hiotoko,” which means “hiotoko 火男” in Japanese, as it was used to blow the fire of a cooking stove with a bamboo pipe.
Furthermore, it is said that the name “hiyottoko” came from the names “hyoutokuひょうとく” and “untokuうんとく” in the folklore of the Tohoku region.
The shape of the hiyottoko mask derives from the “usobuki no men うそぶきの面” masks used in kyogen theater. This type of mask, with round eyes and a protruding mouth, was perfected in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and has been handed down to the present day. Indeed, the Usobuki no
menうそぶきの面 mask is a “hiyottoko” mask.
Hyottoko is often combined with “Okame” and “Otafuku” as a good-luck charm. Let’s look at “Okame” next.
What is the meaning and origin of “Okame”?
Okame” is a female mask with a round face, broad forehead, and low nose. This type of face is also called “okame. There are different ways to write or call “Okame” as follows
- お亀(おかめ) Okame
- 阿亀(おかめ) Okame
- お多福(おたふく) Otafuku
- 阿多福(おたふく) Otafuku
- お福(おふく) Ofuku
- 御福(おふく) Ofuku
- 乙(おと) Oto
- 御前(おとごぜ) Otogoze
- 乙御前(おとごぜ) Otogoze
The following are some theories on the origin of the name otogoze
- Because the shape of its face resembles a jar.
- Taken from the name of a Muromachi period miko (shrine maiden).
- There are also several theories on the origin of Otafuku’s name, the most common of which are as follows
- It means “a lot of good fortune.
- Because the shape of his face resembles a blowfish
- It is a variant of the Kyogen pronunciation of “oto” and “otogoze”.
Neither Okame nor Otafuku is definitive, but Okame supports “the shape of the face resembles a jar” and Otafuku supports “there is a lot of good fortune”.
The origin of this Okame (Otafuku) mask is believed to be Amenouzume, the oldest female dancing princess in Japanese mythology. Amenouzume is said to be the ancestor of the “Sarume-no-kimi,” who were courtesans involved in court ceremonies since ancient times.
Hyottoko refers to a man with a slack-mouthed, crooked expression and his mask. It is also called shiofuki-men (salt-blown mask).
The size of the left and right eyes may be different, and the person may be wearing a cheek mask. Alternatively, the person wearing the mask often wears a cheek mask. They are sometimes paired with female “okame” (Ofukusan). Hyottoko often appear as clowns in dengaku and festival dances and dances.
- “Hyottoko” refers to the mask of a man with a pointed mouth and a frightened expression, or a mask with such an expression.
- A popular theory is that the name “hiyottoko” is a corruption of “hiotoko” (fireman).
- The theory is that it originated from the “usobuki no men” masks used in Kyogen.
- “Okame” is a female mask with a round face, broad forehead, low nose, or something like that.
- There are various theories on the origin of the name “Okame (Otafuku),” but none is definitive.
- It is believed that the mask of Okame (Otafuku) originated from Amenouzume, the oldest female dancer in Japan.
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