Japanese Penis Festival

Okay, there is a more subtle name for this festival. How about, Hounen Matsuri? Celebrated every March 15 in Komaki, a town about 45 minutes north of Nagoya, Japan, this is the time of year where folks haul out a large wooden penis to give three cheers to fertility and renewal. The custom is an old one that is connected to bringing about a good harvest and having babies.

Each year in Komaki, a new two and a half meter penis is carved out of a cyprus tree, put on a float and carried from the Tajata Jinja Shrine (the male version) to the Tamahime-no-mikyo Shrine (female version) by 42 year-old men. Since forty-two is not a lucky number in Japan, the 42 year-old males have an interest in being up close to the big guy in order to turn their luck. Besides this very large phallus, other people carry phalluses in the parade too. Men, women, children, everybody gets in on the fun. This photo is from the festival two years ago, thanks to gwenddydd’s on Flickr.

This Shinto shrine has been around for years and the festival that honors it is steeped in folklore. Although, the big phallus may make it seem like this is all fun and frolic, there is a serious intention to the activities. Renewal and rebirth is the aim here. However, serious as this may be, since drinking sake and catching the rice balls that are thrown into the crowd are part of the entertainment, fun seems to be a big factor. Catching a rice ball is supposed to bring good luck.

Besides the sake, there are plenty of food stalls and souvenir chocolates to buy shaped like, well, you know.