Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tagata "Thingy" Shrine

Our friend Shinya stayed with us on his way back from the the 2006 World Conference Against Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima. He wanted to visit a couple of famous Shinto shrines in Nagoya, so we went with him to Tagata Shrine on Wed. morning. We didn't know till we got there that Tagata is a fertility shrine featuring some startling representations of the male member--so if you're viewing with the younger members of your household you may want to send them to bed before scrolling down or you'll have some 'splainin to do. Here's Caitlin and Shinya in front of the main shrine building. The stacked up barrels are rice barrels symbolizing abundance.

Here's the main float from this years festival parade. Every March there is a huge (thousands of people) festival at this shrine and a six foot long, 600 pound thingy is carried by rotating shifts of 60 or so men through the city. They make a fresh one every year from a single hinoki tree. Click here for an interesting, scholarly write up on the history and symbolism of the festival.

Here's Shinya getting some good luck for the coming year.

Me and Caitlin in front of the main altar.

From the article at the link above: "In the past, the shrine often lended these phalluses to those in need, for example a couple wishing to conceive, an individual searching for a suitable spouse, or to cure childhood illnesses. The objects were returned with interest, for after the desired result was obtained the borrowed phallus was returned to the shrine, along with a new object donated in gratitude."

Where we were standing in the shot above.
Another natural stone phallus.

And, of course, just across the street we have "Bronco Billy's Family Steak Restaurant"--only in Japan.