Komaki’s Honen Festival, A Shocking Traditional Fertility Festival
Komaki is a small, quite, industrial city just north of Nagoya, home to hard working salt-of-the earth type people. Not much happens in Komaki, and so that’s why the annual March 15 held Honen Festival, celebrating fertility and renewal, and featuring an absolutely huge penis is such a shocker!
Komaki is famous for the castle atop Mt. Komaki, originally designed and built by Oda Nobunaga, and the site of the standoff between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu prior to the main Battle of Nagakute in 1584. Komaki is also famous for the annual Honen Festival, a rather visual event also known as “the penis festival” held on March 15. Strangely enough, the event seems to draw a particularly large number of foreign women to it, armed with cameras and bursting out into loud laughter as the festival parades’ main symbol passes by, a large, two and a half meter long, 60 cm thick, 400kg male appendage.
Ancient Tagata Jinja Shrine
Tagata Jinja Shrine dates back over 1,500 years and is filled with man-made and naturally formed penis shaped items. Despite its risqué image and symbolism, the festival celebrating fertility and renewal is a cultural event, steeped in history and mythology. In the olden days, the items of veneration were loaned out to couples wishing for children, to women hoping to find a husband, or to farmers praying for a bumper crop. The phalluses were brought home and worshipped until the desired result was achieved. The items, and something similar as a donation of gratitude, were then returned to the shrine, and so the collection grew.
Celebrations commence about 10am at the Tagata Shrine, where stalls sell penis shaped candies, key-chains, genitalia shaped cakes and cookies, chocolate coated bananas, all manner of wooden phallus figures and sexy souvenirs.
The procession is led by Shinto priests in all their finery sprinkling salt along the route for purification, followed by flag bearers and then about 60 men, all aged 42, (considered an unlucky time for men) dressed in colorful traditional festival clothing working in teams of 12 to carry the huge symbol through the streets.
The festival, although risqué and often full of innuendo, is also filled with fun, and some great photo opportunities and tales to shock your friends when you get home. You’ll be wanting to come again!
If you’re looking to balance things out, by the way, near by the Tagata Shrine is the Oagata Shrine where the objects of worship are... you guessed it, female genitalia!
Click here for the Oagata Shrine Page.