Mark Guthrie ponders an age old question in preparation for this year’s Honen Matsuri
From a very young age I was aware that there was a family legacy to uphold. I would join my father and uncles in various pubs, clutching a bottle of coke and a packet of smoky bacon crisps, and men would look at me and nod. “So, you’re a Guthrie are you?” I would sheepishly reply that I was, as far as I knew. “Hmmm,” they would smirk. “You’ve got a lot to live up to, son.” I replied that I knew, and that I hoped that I would not let the family tradition down. At this point these men, ancient in my youthful eyes though doubtless younger than my current self, would throw back their nicotine stained heads and cackle, spraying foul smelling spittle, tears rolling from their unfocused eyes.
I never understood the hilarity. For me this was no laughing matter, for it was up to me, as the eldest son of an eldest son, to shoulder the responsibility. It was imperative that I continue the tradition of the great Guthrie Wang.
Yes, the Guthrie Wang was famous round our parts, and the thought that I would not grow into it, the possibility that there could be some substandard wang DNA on my mother’s side, filled me with terror. As a late developer, I cowered in changing rooms at school, at sports clubs, hiding my shame that I was somehow letting the family down. This fear filtered into my burgeoning sexual awakenings, causing me to shy away from early experimentations, wracked with anxiety that any potential conquest would either laugh hysterically or, had she been aware of the legend, cry in disappointment.
Fortunately, as I grew in age, receiving a compliment here, a gasp of pleasure there, I grew in confidence, and by the time I arrived in Japan I would happily wander around the changing rooms of my local gym, arse-naked, letting my manhood swing about, basking in my stereotypically genitaled superiority. I was, in everyway, cocksure. That was, until that fateful day I arrived in Komaki. That’s where all the big knobs hang out.
Honen Matsuri (Harvest Festival) is a celebration of new life, of rebirth, much in the same way that the pagan festival usurped by Easter was. But rather than worshiping the false idolatry of camp bunnies, cutesy chicks and garishly wrapped chocolate eggs, Honen Matsuri celebrates a giver of life, a creator of birth: Tamahime-no-mikoto, the female kami (deity) that, for the locals, embodies fertility. And what would such a deity wish for as an offering? Cocks. Great big bulbous cocks.
Yes, everywhere you look on March 15 you will have a cock of some description shoved in your face. Long cocks, short cocks. Fat cocks, thin cocks. Cocks with cute faces, cocks with swollen heads and huge throbbing veins. A veritable pornucopia of phalli to make even the most powerfully gifted men cower with inferiority complexes, and to water the eyes of any woman at even the mere thought of what they could do to an internal organ.
Historically, Komaki was an area that was heavily reliant on agriculture, and each year, the locals visited the 1500 year old Tagata shrine to prey for, amongst other things, fertility of the coming harvest and, importantly, fertility of the local female folk. The shrine itself is littered with penis shaped offerings, and any woman wishing to either find a husband or fall pregnant would take one of these tokens (presumably with just the intention of praying to it, before you get any sordid thoughts into your head), and once their prayers had been answered, return it with a further offering of their own.
But while these offerings are all interesting, and the historical relevance all very intriguing, this is not what brings many thousands of people to Tagata Jingu every year. No, what these tourists come for is the penis shaped chocolate bananas (complete with marshmallow testicles), the schlong shaped key chains, and the candy rock cock. They also come for the biggest dick this side of Ron Jeremy.
Every year a special cedar tree is felled, purified with prayer and beautifully carved into a single block of 2.5m (8ft 2in), 280kg (617lbs) penis. This mammoth member is then slid inside a mikoshi palanquin, looking for all the world like a deranged birdwatcher who, having taken his love for flighted animals to a more terrifying level, has hidden his gargantuan glans inside a decorative bird house to fool the flights of his fancy. This great big phallus is then paraded from the Shinme-sha shrine on even years (such as this one) and Kumano-sha on the odd years, towards Tagata Jingu.
Along its route it is danced and spun down the street, like the worlds greatest exhibition of helicoptering. Keeping out of the way of the swinging schlong is a troupe of women with serene smiles, carrying large carved cocks and handing out sake. They may seem delightful, but these 32 year-old women have ulterior motives for getting you liquored up, as they are all unmarried and are taking part in the parade as a way of advertising their eligibility. For young bachelors, these are women to either avoid or impress, depending on your opinions on the institute of marriage and signs of obvious desperation. Nothing screams “I’ll settle for just about anything as long as I don’t die alone” like free booze and a great big dildo.
Eventually the mikoshi and its prized package arrives at the shrine where it is greeted by the throbbing masses, it is spun once more and then, having nudged its way inside the torii gates, it is sat down outside the temple doors where prayers are offered by the priests, presumably along the lines of “please let me into the shrine, I promise to call, honestly I do, I think you’re a really special shrine, and no it’s not the sake talking, I really do like you.” Or something like that.
Once the parade is over the shrine’s priests clamber up scaffolding to hurl rock hard mochi nage at the crowd who, for some strange reason, try to catch and keep the stuff instead of hurling it back at the buggers. It’s supposed to be lucky, and who knows, perhaps it is.
And who doesn’t want to get lucky. I know I do. And so, on March 15 I’ll be the one chatting to the group of desperate women with the sake making favourable comparisons between the huge manhood representations in their hands and the Guthrie Wang in my pants. Is it an accurate comparison? Of course not. It’s a complete and utter phallusy. Badoom-tish!