Festivals: Hounen Matsuri

I was a little reluctant to attend the Hounen Matsuri (豊年祭) in Komaki despite it being only a short bicycle ride from my home. The rumours of the ‘not-so-respectful’ reactions by certain non-Japanese visitors at the sight of a giant wooden phallus being the main reason.

However, after just travelling thousands of miles to photograph the Kumbh Mela I found it difficult to justify not attending. Unfortunately some of the non-Japanese lived up to the reputation but when they did it was always laughed off or largely ignored by the locals.

It was nonetheless a bizarre sight to see a giant wooden penis being carried down the road I cycle along daily by sake-fuelled men and women cradling wooden penises. Equally bizarre was the sight of some of the visitors dressed up in fancy dress.

The characters 豊年 mean bountiful/abundant year and although the festival and local shrine is visited by couples hoping to conceive it is also attended by anyone hoping for a prosperous year.








Lived in central Japan since 2001 and spend free days exploring.

6 thoughts on “Festivals: Hounen Matsuri

  1. Great shots – I only really noticed the costumes when watching our video footage later. We noticed the bloke dressed up like a Western Ranger though 😛

  2. BTW, these photos are wonderful. I really like festivals, but only the bits which are slightly ‘off’. The guy with the knock-off Mickey Mouse hat is a perfect example.

  3. I think the locals get it too. They are parading a giant cock around and selling cock lollipops. It’s a pretty irreverent atmosphere.
    I’ve been twice, I’m ashamed to say. Once out of curiosity with Nao, and once with a bunch of foreigners for a bit of fun. I’d like to go with my cameras one time too.

  4. These shots are all so great. I especially love the “English okey” sign. Too classic, but endearingly non-exclusionary as well. I think I might have to get one of those funny wooden ‘kokeshi’ to add to my kokeshi collection.

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