I went to a penis festival. Yep, you read that right. In a little town North of Nagoya called Komaki they have a harvest festival every year that hopefully will bring fertility. Setting aside the patriarchal underpinnings of only celebrating the penis as the active maker of fertility *cough* hello vagina anyone *cough* it was a really amusing day. Lots and lots of foreigners were there, but there were plenty of Japanese too, celebrating, taking pictures, buying penis-shaped food, and drinking shrine sake. And after that? Sam and I went to the Ise Grand Shrine, dedicated to goddess Amaterasu.
I ended up with incredibly painful blisters (by the end o f the night on the second day I literally had tears in my eyes) and sunburn that makes me look like a raccoon (which is why there are no pictures of me on the second day, omg) but had a great time. Our friend Fede brought two of his friends to hang out with us at the festival, and we laughed and were goofy all day. And Sam not only put up with my limping the whole second day, but is still talking to me afterwards – which is a tribute more to his patience than anything else.
This is actually the *other* thing they carried through Komaki before the giant penis. It's called a mikoshi (it's the thing that moves the Shinto god from one temple to the other) Although it does look like the Kami (shrine god) looks like he is holding a penis, he's probably holding a fan or something. No, really!
This is Sam, looking innocent. (stress on the *looking*)
Penis! Inside the temple grounds was a stone penis garden. I'm not 100% sure if all these penis-shaped stones were found or carved, but they each had their own little squared off individual garden.
This is a prayer placard. People buy them from the shrine and write their wishes on them. Usually it's a wish for the new year, or something like that. These are all probably fertility wishes though. My favorite part of this is the gushy semen.
The inner part of the temple displaying . . . MOAR PENII! (I don't care if that's not the plural, I love saying it). Anyway, the cool part is that if you look at the corner on the far right, those are all standing penii too.
We speculated that the "biggie" back there used to be the thing they carried into town, but since it was split down the middle it was too fragile to carry anymore.
MOAR STONE PENII! I like the shape of this one. Makes me think of whale penis.
Penis in a slightly more natural habitat? They're so pretty when the sunlight twinkles off of them, aren't they?
A row of penis columns. And yes, they are supposed to be penis heads. They are.
This is the special 'rub the balls' display – you go and donate a little to the box in front, and then rub the giant marble balls there. RUB THOSE BALLS! (though I stayed very far away from them – I do not need to be fertile right now!)
Fede (left) and Luca (right) enjoying some of the non-penis themed food we noshed on all day.
Sam eating the surprisingly tasty bacon-wrapped-rice-on-a-stick.
This is random crowd-guy sucking industriously on his penis-shaped blue candy (see the woman on the left for example). Yes, everything would occasionally erupt into the pornographic.
田縣神社 – Tagata Jinja's tori gate
A woman brought her four huskies to the shrine because she wanted to breed them – they were beautiful though a little freaked out by the crowd.
Local women preparing for the shrine to come down. The women wore red and men blue. During the day while we waited for the procession the women also handed out the shrine sake!
This is the Tengu God of the festival. He was walked up away from the Tagata Jinja shrine by a group of woman, and then brought back down with the procession.
Tagata Shrine tori gate from the other side . . . pretty tree no?
Flower display next to one of the other local gods. While Sam and I were walking around prior to the festival really getting started we saw groups of school kids gathered around this shrine on a corner with clipboards obviously learning and documenting about the day. It was pretty cool.
DUM DAH DA DUM. . .
THE GIANT PENIS!
280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (96 inch)-long wooden phallus.
All of these crowds gather prior to the ceremony to touch the big penis at the Kumano-sha Shrine (they carry the penis from the Kumano-shrine to the Tagata-Jinja). Here's purification salt at Kumano-sha.
Wishing trees at the shrine.
Me and Fede at the shrine. I really was smiling, the camera just caught it early I guess.
Luca rubbing for luck and fertility.
Sam going for fertility too. Hopefully we won't be seeing mpreg in either of their futures.
Doesn't he look angelic?
Yes, grinning like fools.
I don't know what the trees are, but this is now the third time I've seen the same leaves/branches/etc at matsuri and temple celebrations. I don't know if the polka doted ribbon has significance either, but it made for pretty picture.
The man looks frightened, but he was actually really sweet and let all the boys try on his yukata – clearly a local guy who wished us good luck and hoped we had a good time at the festival.
Fede and his friend Kiara (who I totally geeked out with later talking about the two Italian authors I've actually ready – but who I love and hold deep in my heart).
Sleepy boys. It's hard to hang out and wait for the big procession and be surrounded by so many penii.
People! Gathered! Finally the procession made it to the front of Tagata Jinja.
The Giant Penis Banner! Yes, that is pubic hair. Sam got a better picture of this, but I think you get the idea anyway. Detailed. Yes, indeed.
The crowd waiting in front of the heart of the Jinja. One of the Nuns (in the front of the photo wearing green) trying to keep the crowd out of the way of the procession.
More Nuns and Priests and the decorated front of the heart of the shrine.
Happy Nun :D
The Mikoshi being carried by the priests – they circle in front of the temple before they go in.
The Matsuri Sign: 豊年祭 (Honen Matsuri) which is the kanji for "agriculture / year / festival"
Finally! The Giant Penis! Brought on the shoulders of more Tagata Jinja priests. From here on out are a bunch of penis pictures. Just like with the Mikoshi, when they get to the front of the shrine they yell "Irashai" and spin the penis in circles in front of the crowd.
The long and beautiful row of festival food! The favorites were chocolate covered bananas that were carved a little bit at the top to look properly like heads, then given mini-marshmallow chocolate covered balls on the bottom.
And that . . . was the festival! It all ended at 4:30ish, and we made our way back to Nagoya with the Italians and found a little dinner. All in all a damn fine day. And so the end of the day was marked by me and Sam walking back to our hotel and we found neighborhood cats sitting on uplights (obviously to stay warm). It's a bad picture but was an awesome sight.
This trip started with another train trip, since Ise is a couple of hours away from Nagoya. After hopping off the train we went on the hunt for lunch, wandering through the little old-school village outside of the heart of the shrine.
Inside the shrine is a large valley with sculpted trees and wide graveled walking roads. With lots of people.
Love these pine trees.
Cherry trees blooming under the Japanese flag.
A stream. It happens.
These are people waiting to approach the gate that surrounds the heart of the main shrine. People aren't allowed to go in, but can stand at the gate and offer prayers.
Beautiful huge pine tree outside of the heart of the Naiku – it was super duper tall!
Sam petting the base of the tree. You can tell just how many people have petted this tree by how shiny the bark is – well and how much the bark has been rubbed away.
A *very serious* Sam. (he was going for ironic tourism and this is part of that series)
Ok, so this particular inner shrine has a special kind of construction that isn't allowed anywhere else. One of the features is the roof, that eventually begins to break down and grow on its own.
Close up of the growing roof.
The shrine buildings use a special variant of building style called Yuitsu-shinmei-zukuri (唯一神明造), which may not be used in the construction of any other shrine. The old shrines are dismantled and new ones built on an adjacent site to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense, so that the buildings will be forever new and forever ancient and original. So this is the new shrine waiting to house the goddess (and we get to see it before hand).
The Kaguraden – this is the hall for special prayer where individuals can offer their own prayers to the kami. If you look at my other pictures, including many of the ones from Kyoto, you'll see how this temple is way way way simpler (well, less ornate) than many others. That's the Shinto influence on construction coming through.
One side of the shrine sake display.
And last, and least, a really unfocused photograph of one of the bridges that extends over one of the offshoots of the Isuzu River that flows through the shrine. They're really pretty and made of copper I think.
And that was where both my feet and my photographs pretty much gave out.
Thanks for looking!
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