Monday, March 17

Hounen Matsuri: A Celebration of Fertility... and Phalluses

Yes, they are what you think they are. You dirty pervos!

Saturday the Crew headed into Komaki, Aichi-ken for the annual Hounen Matsuri, a festival of fertility whose motif is the same as that of its shrine: the Penis.

Now, I could start telling you all about the history and meaning of the festival but A.) I don't want to, and B.) anything I could tell you would just be regurgitated from sites like this one.

At Kumano Shrine

On that note, over 300 pictures were taken that day, with only a small show presented here, and 73 on Flickr. For a side order of descriptions with your photos, click on the Flickr link in the sidebar. For a straight up slideshow, click here.

Three mikoshi

So, we rolled into Komaki a little before one, marveling at the vast gobs of foreigners - particularly Western foreigners - that had swarmed into town for this curious event. I have to think that this festival is one of the most Gaijin-Attracting festivals, at least in relation to the number of Japanese folk it attracts.

Fool's Sakura
The ume (plum) are blossoming!

On a torii post about halfway between the two shrines.

Anyway, we headed first to Kumano Shrine, where the three mikoshi - including the Two-And-Half-Meter Phallus - were waiting transport to Tagata Shrine. The place was packed, forcing a lot of over-the-head photography.

At Tagata Shrine
Each shrine has its own theme, and hence it's own little picture on the ema it sells.
Tagata, well, it has a penis.

Paul offers Joseph a bite of his pe- banana.

Amazed Believers
The Paultachi are shocked by the third handle on TQP's grocery bag.

Just try this!
It's very nice!

And then we went out to get a spot from which to watch the procession pass.

And pass it did. We were lucky enough that when the Big Guy changed hands, it stopped right in front of us. And then they spun it around a few times in each direction. The red shrine also stopped almost right in front of us too.

This gentleman was handing out salt. I'm not sure what I was supposed to do with it, but I quickly ended up sacrificing it in the pursuit of photos.

Pure Joy
"Smaller" phallus for all to touch - in the hopes of improving fertility.
Good luck, ma'am!

The main event.

Free sake
This was the first festival I've been to where the participants weren't drunker than the spectators. Or drunk at all, for that matter.

After the shrines and all their accompanying folk had gone by, we headed back to Tagata, ate some more, and then moved out.

Unfortunately, we got there to late to purchase any phallic candy, souvenirs or other such sundry items as might be brought home. All you get are these pictures.

What would a festival be without masks?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I learned an Western Esthetic from " Fool's Sakura" for plum flower, highly regarded flower in Japan.

11:21 PM

Blogger Abbey said...

I called it "Fool's Sakura" because last year we saw some blossoms and weren't sure at first if it was sakura. The fact that it was way too early assured us that it was ume.

It's a play on "Fool's Gold." If you're not clued in, you'll think it's gold. Or sakura.

7:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply. I enjoy your colloquial English, a bit tough for me. I am also a sakura-lover. But in Tsurezuregusa, Yoshida Kenko, no.1 arbiter of taste insisted some 800 years ago that ume is more noble than sakura. Ume was imported from China, a status symbol of well-educated and wealthy people. Sakura might have been just among commoner's favorite at that time.

1:50 PM

Blogger Abbey said...

Thank you for your notes on ume! It's interesting how the two flowers have changed places over the years.

There is no denying, however, that ume is also very beautiful. Ne?

2:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can check the Wikipedia article "Hanami", which refers to the history of Hanami. I must modify my note a bit. Yoshida Kenko judged ume should be crowned in the contest. However, in his days cherry-blossoms enjoyed the overwhelming popularity with aristocratic class. As a connoisseur he felt unpleasant with frivolous fashion. In my memory, cherry-blossom was valued as vulgar flower by him.

4:44 PM


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