Honen Matsuri: Bawdy Japanese fertility festival fun
They've been doing this for 1500 years

For almost 1,500 years, the Japanese have been celebrating Honen Matsuri for fertility and good harvests.  And there’s a giant wooden phallus.

You can see why Honen Matsuri is affectionately nicknamed “the Penis Festival”.

On March 15th each year, an enormous 8-foot long 616-pound wooden penis is paraded through the old Japanese farming town of Komaki on the shoulders of 12 men chanting ‘Wa-sha-i’.

These men are all 42 years old, an unlucky number in Japan.

Alongside march the ceremonially dressed Shinto priests, musicians, local dignitaries and woman carrying smaller wooden phalluses.

The traditionally clothed women carrying 60 cm long wooden phalluses are 36 years old, also considered an unfortunate age.

The giant woody is carried from a shrine called Shinmei Sha (in even-numbered years) on a large hill or from Kumano-sha Shrine (in odd-numbered years), to a shrine called Tagata Jinja.

If a gigantic wooden penis carried by chanting and dancing men wasn’t enough, countless helpers hand out free snacks and sake to everybody who wants a cup… or two!

While chocolate bananas are popular at public festivals all over Japan, some stands go the extra mile by carving the tip of the banana and adding two marshmallows to the bottom.

With all the ..accessories, it’s easy to forget Tagata Jinja Hounen Sai is a 1500-year-old sacred tradition.

The giant phallus represents natural renewal, fertility, and good harvest.

The parade cannot even begin until the priests have salted the road to purify the path taken by the bearers.

Lollies, cakes, statuettes and other objects are offerings to wish great fertility to loved ones. With these statues, couples pray for a child, singles pray for a husband or wife while farmers hope for bountiful harvests.

Most people who were actually there for the serious aspect of the festival, not the spectacle, pray for successful pregnancies and buy good luck charms in the morning.


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