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.