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.

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Cycled since I was a kid, moved to Japan in 2001, bought my first 'serious' camera in 2005. Spent the later half of the 1990s travelling in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Japan, and the Philippines and wish I'd photographed a lot more back then.

6 thoughts on “Festivals: Hounen Matsuri

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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