honen matsuri is a fertility festival that takes place in komaki, just outside of nagoya, on march the 15th every year. it features a parade of shinto priests, people wearing ceremonial dress, rivers of sake and a 280 kg, 2,5 m wooden phallus. in even-numbered years, the parade goes from the shinmei sha shrine to a hill nearby and in odd-numbered years, to the tagata jinja shrine.
i hope you haven’t got your panties in a twist and started giggling uncontrollably: it is true that western culture is shy when it comes to genitalia but grown people understand their major role in the lives of people. the festival celebrates good harvest as well as prosperity and fertility.
we got there after changing a few means of transport and running…we had just delayed our program a bit as we had just stopped in order to change our air flight tickets and thus the rest of our schedule. when we asked about indications to the shrine, people said: just follow the crowds. and it was accurate. we got off the train and the first thing we saw were a couple of stands selling candy, wax and wooden phalluses and vaginas. we walked on and reached the closest shrine which was the final point of the parade but already full of people and phallic foods.
we hurried down the road and wiggled our way through the crowds until we found a higher place on a tiny bridge that allowed us to see over the heads of the many people. the parade started: first came a range of shinto priests wearing different robes and wooden shoes, then some girls bearing 50-cm wooden penises just as if they were babies. they were offering them to us to touch so we did. also, we were offered sake while the parade was passing us by. a portable shrine and then the big wooden penis were carried through. after the parade was over, all the spectators hurried to the other shrine because there, people will be thrown many mochi nage, small rice cakes made of rice flour. they were heavy, i’m sure they’d cause a serious bump if they hit your head. we tried to take one home, but it was meant to be eaten then and there: the drier it got, the harder and more inedible it became.
travel gives you a fresh perspective on the world and what can be more refreshing than seeing people being completely relaxed around 1,000 penises of all shapes ans sizes? lol
photo credits: lilaesthete