Shikami (wry face), written 顰 in kanji and also written “獅噛” (the grimacing face of “shishi “, a legendary creature) or “歯噛” (grimace) in old times, is a wooden Noh mask categorized as a fierce god in Noh theater.
The mask exhibits horrifyingly well a ferocious moment of a shishi with its mouth open and a demonic grimace.
“Shikami” is the derivation of a word, “shikamettsura” (a wry or frowning face) used today. The mask is quite popular, appearing in a number of plays including Ooeyama, Momijigari and Tsuchigumo.
Shishi is a legendary lion like animal that has been passed down since ancient times and is regarded as sacred, and in some cases, a symbol of evil.
Some might think that it’s cynical or even comical to think that by a human actor putting the mask on and playing shishi, he becomes awed and feared by the audience. In fact in Kyougen Theatre, animals are mostly used to make scenes funny.
Yet, once an actor appears on the stage with this mask on, he instantly turns into an object of fear and audiences become captivated by the story.
This shows Japanese people are fascinated by awesome and fearsome figures.