This past weekend, there was another Shinto fertility festival in Japan. This one, the Honen Matsuri (Harvest Festival), was just north of Nagoya at the Tagata Shrine. These festivals do have religious connotations, and recently, more and more foreigners are showing up.
According to Chukyo TV, the Honen Matsuri has been getting more coverage abroad, resulting in an influx of international visitors. During the one-day festival, around 5,000 foreigners descended on the small shrine to watch the 600-pound phallus paraded through the town of Komaki.
To help these visitors, English-speaking foreign exchange students were located at information centers.
The festival is to mark the harvest of crops and honor the deity enshrined at Tagata. The nuances of Shintoism might be lost on visitors, who are more enthralled with seeing a huge wooden phallus, dick-shaped candy, and the all-you-can-drink sake.
In Japan, some ages are considered unlucky. Those with unlucky ages carry the portable shrine through the town in hopes of brushing away the bad luck. With a giant spiritual penis.
While the Hodare Festival in Niigata also features a large phallaus, it is slightly different. Here, new brides ride on the large penis, which is carried by males.