The 2012 Tagata Jinja Fertility Festival took place today March 15.
Nowadays a vast, boisterous crowd of both Japanese and foreign visitors, many of the latter US service men and women on a bus tour from Yokosuka Naval Base watch the 2.5m (13 feet), newly-carved 300kg cypress (hinoki) phallus being carried on a mikoshi (portable shrine), by teams of 12 men all aged 42, the 1.5km between Kumano Shrine and Tagata Shrine near Inuyama, just outside Nagoya.
The procession, lead by a herald scattering purifying salt, 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.
Accompanying the procession are a standard bearer with a large banner featuring a phallus, musicians, Shinto priests, maidens carrying 60cm wooden phalluses and a figure wearing a long-nose mask portraying the deity Sarutahiko-no-okami, two sacred trees called sakaki, which used to be torn apart by the crowd at the end of the ceremony to ensure fertility.
Tagata Shrine is estimated to be at least 1,500 years old and the shrine holds a number of phallic objects both natural and man-made, which were traditionally lent to individuals attempting to find a spouse or conceive a child. If the outcome was successful, the ritual objects were returned to the shrine and a new one made in gratitude by the recipient.
The ancient Honen-sai Festival is concerned with fertility and regeneration and prayers for a successful harvest for the year.
Access to Tagata Shrine
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. Alternatively take the Kami-Iida Line from Heian-dori subway station on the circular Meijo Line.
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 Shrine (Tel: 0568 67 1017) is a ten minute walk, turning right out of Gakuden Station on the Meitetsu Komaki Line.
Aichi, Komaki-shi, Tagata-cho-152
Tel: 0568 76 2906
Japan Tagata Jinja Inuyama Phallus Shrine Nagoya Japan Festival Aichi