Japanese and international penis lovers alike have eschewed tsunami memorials in favour of the chance to ride about on some giant penis amidst cheering crowds, much to the delight of onlookers and writers of ambiguous headlines.
The 2012 Hodare Matsuri, held annually on the second Sunday of every March, sees visitors to the Hodare Shrine in chilly Niigata prefecture celebrate the male sexual organ with all manner of wooden icons and sacred foodstuffs.
The traditional highlight of the event involves newly-weds being carried aloft riding a 2.2m long, 600kg mikoshi-mounted wooden penis, in the hopes of supernaturally enhancing their fertility.
Fortunately, the event also attracts plenty of photographic attention:
Many Japanese are as perplexed by all this as any mere barbarian might be, and even the usual perverse hypocrisy which sees secular sex subjected to extremes of censorship and moralistic persecution whilst strange rites utterly at odds with modern Japanese affectations of propriety are exalted as healthy traditional culture does not escape criticism entirely:
“Arrest them for exhibiting obscene materials already.”
“I thought this was just made up for some eroge. They really have it?”
“What kind of country backwater is this…”
“These kinds of festivals happen everywhere.”
“Of course. From ancient times people have celebrated children and the organs which make them.”
“Primitive native culture.”
“Don’t forget the Kamamura festival.”
“The countryside is pretty amazing at times.”
“Only crazed exhibitionists would go to this. I bet you wouldn’t even get arrested for flashing your penis there…”
“This is an ancient and deeply rooted regional ceremony, so there is nothing wrong with it at all.”
“There is a vagina festival at an Aichi shrine as well. It’s not indecent!”
“If they are this open about things it isn’t even that sexy.”
“So they still held it on 3/11…”
“This is a holy festival. People who say it is scandalous are unpatriotic!”
“This is discrimination against people with phimosis.”
“Hey, don’t have foreigners ride them!”