Honen Matsuri – March 15, 2023

Honen Matsuri is celebrated in Japan on March 15, and we’re here to tell you how you can celebrate the day in the best possible way. Do you know that it has been 1,500 years since Honen Matsuri was first celebrated? Honen Matsuri is a day dedicated to celebrating fertility and harvest. The festival involves tableaux shaped as phalluses, phallus statues, and people dressed up in phallus costumes, representing fertility. Couples pray and hope for conceiving a child while farmers pray for a year of successful harvesting. Lollies, cakes, and confectioneries are made as offerings, and free sake is distributed among people.

History of Honen Matsuri

In 500 A.D., the festival of Honen-Sai was celebrated for the first time in Japan as a festival of fertility and good harvest. Later, during the Edo period in 1603, wooden phalluses were included in processions to symbolize fertility and good luck.

In a suburb of Komaki, located at the north of Nagoya, is the temple of Tagata. The celebrations of Honen Matsuri start at the Tagata shrine. Religious priests purify the road to be used for the procession by sprinkling salt. Then, the bearers carry an 882-pound wooden phallus and parade it through the road. The Japanese are very broad-minded and open when it comes to traditions. Initially, the wooden phallus was attached to a statue of a samurai.

Men, women, and children of all ages attend the procession. Couples who have been longing to have children touch the phallus and hope to conceive a child in the near future. Farmers also take part in this procession and pray for their lands to be fertile and have a year of a good harvest. Sake, a well-known Japanese alcoholic drink made with rice, is distributed for free among the people. The best part is that there have been no records of fighting, misbehaving, or violence, even though sake is served abundantly. Millions of tourists from all over Europe, America, Australia, and other Asian countries attend this festival every year and pray for fertility and good health. Honen Matsuri is held in Spring, and this makes the festival even more attractive for the tourists.

Honen Matsuri timeline

500 B.C.
Honen-Sai is Celebrated

Honen-Sai is celebrated in Japan as a festival of fertility.

1603
The Edo Period

Honen Matsuri is celebrated with the representation of the phallus as the symbol of fertility at the Tagata shrine.

1800s
The Festival Gains Popularity

Throughout Japan, the festival gains popularity.

1900s
Honen Matsuri

Honen Matsuri draws the attention of people worldwide and becomes immensely popular.

Honen Matsuri FAQs

What is the meaning of ‘matsuri’ in Japanese?

Any festival celebrated in Japan is called ‘matsuri.’ The literal meaning is ‘enshrined.’ Matsuri means the comfort, prayer, and gratitude shown to nature.

What is Anime Matsuri?

Anime is a genre of cartoon produced in Japan. Anime Matsuri is an event held in the U.S. to celebrate the world of anime characters. It’s usually held in Houston, Texas.

Who was Honen in Japan?

Honen was the Seventh Jōdo Shinshū Patriarch. He reformed and founded the first independent branch of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism named Jōdo-shū. Honen was born in 1133 in Okayama and died in Kyoto in 1212.

Honen Matsuri Activities

  1. Visit Japan

    If you have been planning to visit Japan, then visiting Japan during the festival of Honen Matsuri would be the best time. You can experience this extravagant festival firsthand. Honen Matsuri occurs in Spring, which makes it even more special as you see colorful blooming flowers everywhere.

  2. Make phallus-shaped statues and candies

    Don't be shy during Honen Matsuri. The Japanese believe that the phallus is a symbol of fertility, vigor, and good health. Make phallus-shaped candies and statues and celebrate Honen Matsuri in an authentic Japanese way.

  3. Share it on social media

    Let everyone know that you're celebrating this day. Write a blog post or an article on Honen Matsuri and share it on your social media page. You can also post related pictures and videos.

5 Important Facts About The Tagata Shrine

  1. It is on top of Mt. Komaki

    The shrine is located at the top of Mount Komaki.

  2. It was built by Oda Nobunaga

    The shrine was designed and built by Oda Nobunaga.

  3. It is a battle site

    The shrine is located at the site where the Battle of Nagakute was held in 1584.

  4. Samurai vs. Shōgun

    The battle was fought between Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a samurai, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan.

  5. The festival is led by Shinto priests

    Before the bearers parade, Shinto priests, all aged 45, purified the road by sprinkling salt.

Why We Love Honen Matsuri

  1. We learn about different traditions and cultures

    Honen Matsuri is one of the more interesting cultural traditions. How often do you see a wooden phallus paraded down the street? It is one of those festivals that brings tourists from all over the world.

  2. It celebrates fertility and harvest

    Honen Matsuri is one of few festivals that is specially dedicated to the fertility of not just lands and farms but also humans. During Honen Matsuri, couples from all over the world come and participate in the procession and hope to conceive a child.

  3. The Japanese are open-minded yet virtuous

    The Japanese make statues, candies, and souvenirs in the shape of phalluses. Sake is distributed free of charge to everyone taking part in the procession. However, there have been no reports of violence or chaos. The Japanese are well-mannered, humble people who show much respect to others, especially foreigners and tourists.

Honen Matsuri dates

YearDateDay
2022March 15Tuesday
2023March 15Wednesday
2024March 15Friday
2025March 15Saturday
2026March 15Sunday

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