Watch a video of the 2007 Tagata Jinja Hounen Matsuri
Listen to the sounds of Tagata Jinja Hounen Matsuri
Listen to the music of Tagata Jinja Hounen Matsuri
The Tagata Jinja Hounen Sai has grown in popularity over the years. The annual fertility festival held annually on March 15 attracts a boisterous crowd of both Japanese and foreign visitors to witness a 2.5m, approximately 300kg wooden phallus being carried on a mikoshi (portable shrine), by teams of 12 men, the 1.5km between Kumano Shrine and Tagata Shrine near Inuyama, just outside Nagoya.
Tagata Jinja is believed to date back over a 1500 years and is dedicated to fertility, good harvests and the natural bounty symbolized by the male phallus. The shrine is not a place of worship of the male member as such, but the natural fecundity, renewal and growth the erect penis represents.
Tagata Jinja abounds with representations of the phallus, even the shrine's bell is in the shape of a penis and during the year the shrine, located in the non-descript suburb of Komaki, is often visited by young couples who come to pray for the birth of a child.
Each year a new phallus is carved by a local master craftsman from a Japanese cypress tree (hinoki) and both the tree and the craftsman undergo various purification rites as the wood is carved over the winter months in readiness for the spring festival.
On the day of the festival, the procession starts from Kumano Shrine at 2pm and the portable shrine is accompanied by Shinto priests, musicians playing ancient court music, local dignitaries, women carrying smaller wooden phalluses and loud shouts of "wa-sha-i" as the heavy load is carried to its destination. Sake is freely dispensed in paper cups from a sake cart on the way and everyone is invited to touch and in some cases feign to suck the members on display.
The middle-aged Japanese men carrying some of the phalluses obviously get a great kick out of offering the wooden penises to Western women to fondle and caress (it's their ultimate fantasy!) and the women are unashamedly turned on by the sight of so much hard, though wooden, cock.
The procession reaches Tagata Shrine about 4pm for the literal climax of the day's events. A small portable shrine carries a wooden representation of Takeinadene-no-mikoto, the male deity visiting his female counterpart (and wife) Tamahime-no-mikoto, who is enshrined at Tagata Jinja. Next comes the huge phallus which is placed in the shrine for another year, the old phallus being sold off.
The Tagata Jinja Hounen Sai is undoubtedly a fun day out and there are lots of stalls in the grounds selling chocolate coated bananas, pink sugary phalluses and the usual beer, fried noodles, fried potatoes and takoyaki. Visitors can buy the shrine's ema (votive plaques), carved wooden phalluses, keychains and other lucky charms to take back home with them as souvenirs.
Also of interest is the nearby Ogata Jinja, where representations of the female vagina can be found.
To get to Tagata Jinja take a Meitetsu train from Nagoya Station or Kanayama Station to Inuyama. Change to a Meitetsu Komaki Line train leaving from platform 3 and go threee stops to Tagata Jinja Mae. Turn left out of the station and then left again at the main road. Tagata Jinja is about 400m on your right. To reach Kumano Shrine turn right out of Tagata Jinja, cross over the main road and Kumano Jinja is on your left as you climb the hill after crossing over the railway line.
Alternatively take the Tsurumai Subway Line to Kami Otai and change to a Meitetsu Line train to Inuyama and then the Komaki Line to Tagata Jinja Mae.
Ogata (Oh-agata) Shrine (Tel: 0568 67 1017) is a ten minute walk, turning right out of Gakuden Station on the Meitetsu Komaki Line.
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Read more about Tagata Jinja and the Hounen Sai
Festival Happi coats
Thursday, March 15, 2007
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