Honen Matsuri(豊年祭り)-The Spring Penis Festival

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What better way to usher in spring than with a penis festival.  This festival is quite popular and one of the most unique things I have ever seen.  I don’t think you can find a penis festival anywhere else in the world.  That being said it draws thousands of people from all over Japan and even the world!  This festival takes place from 10am-4pm every March 15th at Tagata Shrine in Komaki, Japan.  It celebrates the blessings of a plentiful harvest, prosperity, and of course fertility.  But what really draws the crowd is the procession where the enormous penis is being paraded down the street and all you can drink sake!
Before the festivities begin you can walk around the shrine grounds and see the different penis shaped objects everywhere.  There are statues, stones, and even magic balls you can touch for good luck.  Also as is common with any festival there are food and souvenir stalls everywhere.  So enjoy some food and free sake before the parade begins.  There is also a sub shrine filled with previous year’s penises.  These penises are carved from a single cedar tree every year by a master craftsman after the tree has been purified by the temple.  The penis weighs in at 280 kilograms and is around 2.5 meters long.  Every year the enormous penis is given to the gods as an offering for prosperity.
The parade begins at 2pm and follows about a kilometer route to Tagata Temple.  The procession begins with a large penis banner followed by numerous priests throwing salt at spectators for purification.

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Then come a number or women holding a 20 inch wooden penis who are all chosen specifically because of their age.  Apparently women at age 36 are said to be unlucky and need some kind of religious or spiritual intervention.
Then comes the bigger than life penis toted by 60 men.  All of these men just like the women are chosen specifically due to their age.  All the men are 42 years old and just like the women need some kind of religious or spiritual intervention.  I guess this intervention is to carry a huge penis on your back around town.  Anyways these guys rotate carrying the large wooden penis sitting on its wooden platform.  If you combine the platform and the penis the whole thing weighs around 400 kilograms.  So with this kind of weight and everyone being drunk the more hands the better!
After the main attraction passes the sake cart hands out free sake to anyone who wants it!  The procession takes a little longer than an hour and ends back at the temple.
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This decorated bambo shows where the sake cart is!
Once the parade has finished it was time for rice cake throwing.  Everyone gathers in the square outside the temple and all children and women are ordered to leave because they might get injured.  The festival supervisors throw these terrible tasting rice cakes from an elevated platform to the hungry drunk mob!  I didn’t stay for this but apparently people are ruthless in trying to get those things.  People are jumping, running, pushing and shoving to get this tiny tasteless rice cakes.  I kind of wish I would have stayed to witness the spectacle!
After the rice cake has finished the festival is over and everyone slowly heads home.  But before going home you can’t leave without buying one of the many penis shaped souvenirs.  They have candy of all kinds, ashtrays, cups, food, key chains, and tons of carvings.  Buy a few to remember one of the weirdest festivals you will ever go to!

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