to be benefical by by many Japanese and obscene by many Westerners,
Hounen Matsuri is held on March 15th every year in the small
town of Komaki, which is just outside of Nagoya.
The word "hounen" means "a rich harvest".
The festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful
harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility. The festival's
main features of interest are shinto priests playing musical instruments,
a parade of ceremonially-garbed participants, all-you-can-drink
sake, and a 280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (8 feet)-long wooden
those of you who'd like the Cliff-notes for this festival,
check out the journal entry I wrote about it here!
ceremony begins at Tagata Jinja with some preparations and
drinking of sake. Based on the discovery of an ancient
sword and other artifacts, Tagata Shrine is thought to be
over 1,500 years old. There are a number of interesting items
around the shrine, stone and woodcarvings, manmade or naturally
occuring that, of course, are all of the phallus-shape.
stack of sake barrels. They are
usually donated by local companies.
When needed, they are opened with
a large wooden mallet.
are a lot of other things to do before the main event other
than drinking sake! Oh yes! You can get a lovely picture
taken with one of the attractive phallus shapes near Tagata
Shrine or rub the magic balls and make a wish like the high
school girl below is doing!
course, the main attraction of Tagata Shrine is "the big
one". Every year a new phallus is carved from a single cedar
tree trunk. In the middle of winter, a tree is cut down and brought
to the shrine for purification. Then a master craftsman using
traditional tools and wearing ritually-purified clothing slowly
carves the tree trunk to be a giant phallus that will be featured
in the parade that year. After that year's Hounen Matsuri
is finished, the giant phallus is stored here. It is important
to remember that people do not actually worship the giant phallus.
It is an offering to the gods and is revered as such. Inside,
are also smaller carved phalli given to the shrine by couples
or women in thanks for supposed blessings granted. These objects
are also occasionally loaned out to people who request a blessing
from the shrine.