The Hounen festival at Tagata shrine is one of the most famous (or infamous?) festivals in Japan. Amongst foreigners visiting Aichi Prefecture it is frequently referred to as the “penis shrine”, or “Japanese penis festival”, primarily due to the ancient Hounen Matsuri (a festival celebrating fertility and renewal), which is held here every March 15th.
Every year on March 15 a huge two and a half meter wooden phallus is carried the short distance between two shrines attracting visitors from all over Japan and international media attention. The festival is fun with a lot of sake drinking, however the background of the festival is rather more serious. A shrine is a place of worship. It houses divine spirits and preserves the memory and practice of many aspects of Japanese culture.