There are many weird things about Japan, so you might not be surprised to hear that last week Mike and I visited the Tagata Shrine to partake in their annual Fertility festival..aka Penis festival! **Caution some of the pictures might be a bit phallic.***
Honen-sai is a festival that has been celebrated for around 1500 years, to help bring a rich and bountiful harvest to the land. So of course why not use a phallic object to symbolize fertility of the farmers land?! New objects are believed to possess more purity and vitality, so every year a master craftsmen has the honor of creating a brand new phallus out of a single Japanese cypress tree for each festival. As the story goes these phallus’s keep getting bigger and bigger and last years was recorded at 13 feet long and 620 pounds!!
So how do all these dicks get into the shrine?! Well that’s where things get interesting..a procession of 12 men all of the age of 42 parade the woody through town, before bringing it into the shrine. ** 42 years old is an auspicious age for men in Japanese culture. Therefore by carrying the phallus you are asking for protection.** Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the parade because we had to leave early to go to work. But that’s what your imagination is for!
Nowadays, this festival gets a lot of attention from foreigners because of the uniqueness and oddity of it. AND like any smart society, people have learned to capitalize off of it as well. We partook in purchasing penis shaped food, and praying at the penis filled shrine, at one point they were even giving away free sake from the “fertility tree”. It was an odd day full of mostly unanswered questions, but worth the laughs!