Festivals: Hounen Matsuri

I was a little reluctant to attend the Hounen Matsuri (豊年祭) in Komaki, central Japan despite it being only a short bicycle ride from my home. The rumours of the ‘not-so-respectful’ sake-fuelled reactions by a small number of visitors at the sight of a giant wooden phallus being the main reason – an old traditional festival being turned into crass entertainment? No thanks.

However, after just travelling thousands of miles to photograph the Kumbh Mela I found it difficult to justify not attending. Unfortunately a very small number of  visitors did live up to the reputation but 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.

6 responses to “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.


    1. Next year? It’s on a Saturday in 2014.


      1. darrenrelliott Avatar

        Might be up for that…


  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.


  4. 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 😛


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: