Why they worship the penis in Japan

In the village of Komaki, 45 minutes from the central city of Nagoya, there is a shrine devoted to the phallus. Each spring, the old and young alike come here to see an enormous wooden penis carried through the streets, to eat penis shaped sweets, and to make a penis-spirited wish to god.

The tradition is thought to have begun around 1,500 years ago. A springtime celebration, the "penis festival", or Honen-sai Matsuri, is carried out to bring fertility and a good harvest to the people.

Contributors

The giant penis, centrepiece of the show

Video posted on YouTube by “sillysealedstories” 16 March 2010.

“Japanese people are more at ease with genitalia than others”

Jose Cruz (jcrus2000) is a Brooklyner who moved to Itami, Kansai region, Japan, five years ago. He has a Japanese wife and currently teaches English to children. He went to the penis festival to photograph the event.

The Tagata Jinjashrine (below) was used in the past as a source of spiritual protection for the people in the area. Although Jinja is apparently very calm throughout the year (except for couples seeking help with having children), every 15 March it's the scene of the Honen-sai festival.

All kinds of people attend the festival, they're all very easy going, there are no fights or rowdy crowds, even though many people are drinking and as part of the event, Sake is given out freely to people along the parade route. 

Every year a new giant penis is made from hinoki (cypress) tree. It's 2.5 metres (13 feet) long and weighs 280 kilograms (620 pounds). It is made by special craftsman, using ancient tools and techniques. It represents the essence of unity of man and woman and of earth. The white cloaks worn by the men are used to symbolise cleanliness and holiness; only those wearing them are allowed to carry the wooden statue of the giant penis. They must be 42-years-old, which is considered by the Japanese as an age of bad luck.

Women carry small ones to protect them from harm or to help them with fertility. They must be 36-years-old, which is also considered an age of bad luck.

There are many vendors who sell all kinds of traditional festival foods. These include Takoyaki (a round ball made of flour with octopus inside), okonomiyaki (a food made from flour and vegetables on a flat grill), sweets, yakitori (chicken on a stick), oden (vegetable stew), beer, sake, corn on the cob and yakisoba (a kind of stir-fried noodles).

These symbolise a long penis so hence good life/health. But it's not a traditional thing, just another type of food to sell during the day's events.

These wooden penises were, in the past, given to people seeking help. Once things were fixed or addressed, it would be returned and often as a sign of gratitude, a new one was also returned. The penis in Japan is a symbol of strength and power and to some degree, protection too. There's also a vagina festival, which was held on Sunday (March 14). It's a small festival. 

 

 

The statues are marked with engravings that show a donation to the Jinja by a company or person.

These are called ‘ema'. They are wishes that people put around the Jinja for their wishes to come true. At some point during the year, they are burned and the messages are sent to ‘god'.

 

I really believe that Japanese people are more at ease with genitalia than others; within the context of health, good harvesting, and something generally seen as positive. Japanese people love going to hot springs, where everyone's naked, so it's very normal and natural for them. There's no shame in being naked here. I'd also say that they are very open about sex and fertility. Especially middle aged and older men; to have a strong sexual appetite is a sign of good health!"

All Jose's photos are posted on his Flickr account.

The Tagata Jinja shrine

Video posted on YouTube by "AsiaWFT", 4 March 2010.

Comments

penis worship

penis worship,mmh...first time to hear of such!!people are getting lost.how can they worship a mere penis when GOD is there,this is not right...

please read more about

please read more about CULTURAL RELATIVISM before making any negative remark about a culture.

Penis Festval

I found this to be an excellent and fascinating story to read after all the doom and gloom on the UK Budget Day. I'm always interested to learn about other cultures and what makes them tick - it can help if one subsequently meets people of that culture.
As for feeling shocked at the spectacle of a giant penis being portrayed through the streets, or feeling ashamed or disgusted, I am sure that there are many Western customs that the Japanese people find perplexing all the way to highly offensive. The difference semms to be that they, generally speaking are too polite to embarass us by mentioning them.

The Penis Festival

Never heard of a festival of this type anywhere in the world. This is very strange. In India there are some festivals where women are allowed to perform or worship idol and the pooja is done my naked women. On that particular day only women are allowed in the temple premises. But this festival in Japan is very surprising to me where men and women participate

If you know of its practice

If you know of its practice within the hindu culture please LINK VIDEOS of it , would be very beneficial, especially for those having difficulty in conceiving

Peyronies, Eureka!

And clearly Peyronies is common over there, and no wonder! That itself will lead to fertility issues. Google the term. (I'm avoiding religious issues, despite this going back to biblical records.)

Penis fatigue setting in

It would not surprise me that heterosexual women and gay men are even getting tired of seeing the giant wiener on the front of France 24's homepage. I being a hetero male would get tired of seeing a young(legal)woman's lovely, tight vagina after several days. Is France 24 getting paid by the makers of Viagra to keep running the homepage giant phallus photo or what?!

Japan and its penis

I was in Japan in 1972. It was a warm day so we decided to go into a very big shopping centre. On a stage near the door ,they were acting out a play and all these schoolkids were watching. The play was about this women being raped by a demon. The male figure had a huge penis strapped to him,whilst the female figure had a huge vagina strapped to her.I was taken aback ,but if it was the norm for them well so be it.The crime rate at the time was almost zero.

in Japane in the nest year....

Hi all of you! I've read this story and i Think it is actually GRID. anyway it is nice and funny because they said "to protect them from harm" so am lucky but if she carry small one in that pic that mean i have nothing.
Thanx for that man he wrote this story and thanx for FRANCE24.
Redeemer H2.. to be or not to be

Not exactly worship of penises

It's a fertility festival. People without children pray for children. People also hope for grandchildren, and pray for the fertility of their own children. It's not about worshiping a penis. There are vagina themed shrines in other regions, by the way.

It's also fun, and Japanese are not as hung up on body parts as people in other parts of the world. Old people as well as young go to these festivals. Everyone enjoys it.

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