Up close and personal!The main item of worship (Photo: Stefou! / CC BY 2.0)
- 4 min read

Sex and the Komaki City

Honen Festival celebrates fertility and renewal

Samantha from Sex and The City would be impressed!

Komaki is a small but industrial city to the north of Nagoya city. It’s a city inhabited with relatively quiet, hard working salt-of-the earth type people, and that’s why the annual Honen Festival, celebrating fertility and renewal and staged every March 15 and featuring an absolutely huge penis is such a shocker!

Komaki’s claim to fame has long been 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, or infamous as the case may be, for the annual Honen Festival, a rather graphic event also known as “the penis festival”. Strangely enough, the event seems to draw a particularly large number of foreign women to it, armed with cameras and exploding with gales of laughter as the festival parades’ main symbol passes by.

Special tours from Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong have the festival on an annual itinerary, and you really must see it to believe it. A large, two and a half meter long, 60 centimeter thick male appendage is carried through the streets between the hilltop Shinmei-Sha Shrine in even numbered years, or from Kumano-Sha Shrine in odd numbered years along the parade route together with other pageantry one and a half kilometers to the Tagata Shrine.

Tagata Shrine is believed to date back over 1,500 years. The shrine and particularly it’s inner sanctuary interior are filled with man-made and naturally formed penis shaped items. 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 hoping for a bumper crop. The items 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. despite it’s risqué image and symbolism, the festival celebrating fertility and renewal is a cultural event, steeped in history and mythology.

Every year on March 15 the town rises to the occasion. As with most Japanese festivals these days, the original meaning of the festival has been lost to modern day merriment, and this is one merry festival! Celebrations commence about 10am at the Tagata Shrine. The stalls along the route and around the shrines compound sell penis shaped candies to suck on, phallus key-chains and mobile phone appendages, there are genitalia shaped cakes and cookies, chocolate coated bananas, as well as all manner of wooden phallus figures and related sexy souvenirs. Sake is handed out freely from big wooden barrels, and everyone gathers at either the Shinmei or the Kumano shrines for the official start.

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. The participants work in rotating teams of 12 to carry the hefty symbol mounted in a portable shrine, making a combined weight of almost 400 kilograms, through the streets to deliver it to the Tagata Shrine.

A new giant wooden appendage is carved every year for the popular festival. The 60 centimeter diameter “thingy” is made from a large cypress tree by a master craftsman in traditional garb and using traditional tools. Like all festivals, it’s a religious rite, and so purification rituals are carefully adhered to. It seems however that each year the phallus gets a little larger, and the most recent event had the ding dong coming in at a whopping 280 kilograms.

Once the new symbol is complete and has been inserted in the shrine, the previous one is sold to local homeowners or businesses. Heaven knows what one does with such a big dick at home.

About 4:30 in the afternoon, the boisterous crowds gather in front of the Tagata Jinja in hopes of catching one of the lucky rice cakes showered on the crowd by officials on raised platforms.

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! Samantha would finally be satisfied, and you’ll be wanting to come again! Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking to balance things out, near by the Tagata Shrine is the Ogata Shrine where the objects of worship are… you guessed it, female genitalia!

More info

Find out more about Tagata Shrine.

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Victoria Vlisides 8 years ago
Shocking... lol
Anonymous 12 years ago
Ha, ha... wonder if this is part of ancient tradition or something thought up by the local Chamber of Commerce in the '60's? Whichever, the festival is a great idea and indicative of the ambivalent relationship the Japanese have with nature and their own bodies.

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