Because there are
Also, if you are wondering why I am using the word "penis" instead of any of the fabulous euphemisms out there, it's because
A. a penis is a penis is a penis, and nobody goes around using euphemisms for chest hair*
B. let's face it; "phallus" sounds uber-pretentious
C. "manhood" makes me think of the increasing number of (really boring) sex scenes in A Song of Ice and Fire
D. a penis is a penis is a penis.
Yesterday morning, Hali and Ashley and I got on a train to Tagata Jinja. We were planning on going to Hounensai, which is a fertility festival held every March 15. The festival (and the shrine, to a lesser extent) is somewhat of a legend because of its...interesting objects of worship.
Unfortunately, we discovered that Itou-san wasn't kidding when she said that the festival is a gaijin magnet, and we quickly found ourselves amid a GAIJIN SWARM. I have nothing against foreigners--I am, in fact, a foreigner. (Shocking, I know!) But I do have something against people who act super gaijin (by blocking the road, stepping in your way, shoving like jerks, being super racist on the train, etc.) and think the fact that they are from AMERICA means that everyone should bow down and worship their feet and if you YELL LOUD ENOUGH IN ENGLISH people will understand exactly what you are saying!
...it's really not that hard to learn basic phrases in Japanese, you guys. Really not that hard.
In completely unrelated news, I am so happy every time I hear a foreigner attempting to speak Japanese, no matter how horrifically mangled that Japanese is.
Anyway, aside from gaijin being horrifying and making us being ashamed of being gaijin, there were also...
Which definitely weren't made to resemble something else.
Those just HAPPENED to be the most convenient places to stick marshmallows!
Oh, hey, look at this thing for tying up your omikuji!
...it's phallic, if maybe you somehow didn't notice.
...the ema have penises on them.
This one says is asking to pass the entrance examination for Nagoya Art College.
...it also has a penis on it.
Clearly art college ==> penises. (People with penises go to art college! See, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation.)
I cannot take anyone who writes "4" instead of "for" seriously.
HEY GUYS, IT'S A PENIS. WHAT A SHOCKER.
...beautiful juxtaposition there.
You guys, are you missing the REALLY OBVIOUS PENISES on these ema?
Apparently so. The only even mildly penis-related ema I found were asking for safe childbirth.
You guys, I think you are misunderstanding basic human anatomy.
Oh man, it's a rock that looks like a...well, you get the idea.
Nope, not really seeing it.
You can never have too many wooden penises.
So then we lined up to...
...rub the magical testicles.
Apparently rubbing the right one will give you family safety and business prosperity and a bunch of other stuff and the left one will give you awesome kids and safe childbirth and a bunch of baby-making related stuff.
Hali demonstrates proper ball-rubbing technique. (She was only rubbing the right one 'cause she doesn't want awesome babies.)
It should be noted that there's totally a wooden penis between the two balls, so it's not like they're just randomly disconnected from everything.
No, seriously, look at this fence. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THIS FENCE.
This is the completely penis-less front of the shrine, by the way.
Hey, bro, I heard you like phallic objects so I put a phallic object on your phallic object so you can...
...that sentence got away from me.
Bananas + chocolate penises + Winnie the Pooh = ???????????????
Anyway, everyone started lining up for the main event, i.e. the parade of the giant penis.
We had bought penis lollipops to bring back to a few of the girls in the dorm who had class during the festival. Ashley decided to try one.
Cue awkward pictures!
She said it didn't actually taste like anything, despite being BRIGHT YELLOW.
(There was a green one as well, which we decided had probably dropped off of a zombie.)
Hali stole the pop for a while as well.
They were also selling vagina lollipops, but they were pretty obviously designed by someone who had never seen a vagina before. When I gave one to Louki, she said it looked like an alien. Some of them looked kind of like very confused cinnamon buns.
Oh, they were also selling containers with chocolate condoms (complete with wrappers that said "Stop AIDS!") and chocolate breasts and chocolate penises. Whoo.
Oh, and the omamori at the shrine all had penises in them. Including one which we thought was just a normal jar...which turned out to be a jar with a penis in it. If you ever had to take a literature class, you probably get where this is going.
Unfortunately, I was stuck behind a photographer dude who enjoyed stepping on my feet. Guh.
The festival had helicopter coverage, apparently...?
Here comes the fire department, trying to keep everyone from crowding the parade route...
The priest in blue was handing out...some sort of white substance? Rice? Salt? Cocaine? I dunno.
The guy in the red mask is supposed to be a tengu, which is a sort of long-nosed Japanese spirit.
Here's the tengu guy, again.
Here come the mikoshi!
That instrument, by the way, with all the pipes, is supposed to be incredibly difficult to play. It's an exclusively gagaku (雅楽; court music) instrument.
Apparently touching the ropes of the mikoshi will give you good luck.
...huh, I wonder what she's holding. Everyone seems to want to touch it...
...oh, of course.
STOP BLOCKING MY VIEW AHHHHHHH
...and here it comes.
So then guys came carrying these...branches with a bunch of pieces of cloth tied to them? And the first branch went down in the crowd and everyone went crazy and started tearing it to pieces, and I thought everything was going terribly wrong until the leader of the second group started yelling that they needed to throw their branch into the crowd too. Apparently getting a piece of the branch or a strip of cloth is good luck.
Holy shoot, so many vicious people.
So then everyone went over to where they were going to do mochi throwing.
Ashley's lollipop had turned into a spear.
This is the strip of cloth I got, by the way. I guess I will have really awesome babies if I ever decide to have babies?
It was insanely crowded, if that wasn't already obvious.
Here come the mochi throwers!
And here we go!
I can honestly say that it was one of the scariest experiences of my life, because we were packed together like sardines, and everyone was PUSHING. WHAT HAVE I SAID ABOUT PUSHING, YOU GUYS. People went down. I wouldn't be surprised if people were trampled. Ashley was punched in the head. Some dude stomped on my foot repeatedly, because he was a jerk.
Anyway, I fled** because I didn't particularly want to die.
Yeah, it was pretty brutal.
So we headed back to the station, picked up some last minute omiyage, and then headed back to Nagoya.
In unrelated news, Louki and Kim have informed me that if I ever have children, they will send Dutch licorice to my children from a young age so that my children will become addicted to Dutch licorice. They have decided to do this to all their American friends so that soon Dutch licorice will conquer the entire United States BWAHAHAHAHA.
I am genuinely concerned for my hypothetical future children. No child, no matter how awesome, should have Dutch licorice thrust upon him/her.
Anyway, tomorrow I'm heading off to Tokyo for 2 1/2 weeks of Crazy Wild Adventures! I have no idea what my internet access will be like, so I might not have another proper update until I am back in Nagoya. If you're a Tech Houser, I'll be in the area March 28-31, so we should hang out or something!
*I fully expect to receive emails full of euphemisms for chest hair now.
**And I might have been crying and shaking really badly and had bruised toes, but you can't prove it.