英语读物:日本性文化节

Japanese Fertility Festival

A 300-year-old fertility festival at a Japanese shrine celebrates the coming of spring

Reuters

Some 30,000 visitors packed into this local shrine, south of Tokyo, looking for a laugh or something more permanent. In a three-century-old ritual, a band of merry locals carry omikoshi, or portable phallic shrines in most cases with hopes of increasing their odds of fertility. In baby challenged Japan, this is a growing concern. But foreign visitors also flocked to this shrine, many amazed that a full frontal public display of this kind was possible.

Definitely more liberal in Japan, yeah, no, you wouldn’t find a festival like this in the UK, maybe in secret somewhere, but nothing like this.

Erotic candies are not for every taste at the festival, but these women are not shying away from sweets. This shrine has become known internationally after foreigners started joining its annual phallic festival a few decades ago. Many of the visitors today are apparently here to just have fun. There are some who are really serious about making their wishes.

The wishes are they need babies, but some need boyfriends first.

I’d really like to have a baby, and before that, I need a boyfriend. I came here hoping these wishes would come true.

The festival began over 300 years ago after ladies of the night demanded protection from an epidemic of syphilis. Now the shrine says its god is believed to help protect people from the AIDS virus and to alleviate the plight of its sufferers.

Toshi Maeda Reuters, Kawasaki, Japan.

WORDS IN THE NEWS

1. omikoshi : noun 神輿

An omikoshi is a portable Shinto shrine. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle of a divine spirit in Japan at the time of a parade of deities. Often, the mikoshi resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing.

2. phallic : adj

Something that is phallic is shaped like an erect penis. It can also relate to male sexual powers.

3. erotic : adj

Erotic art shows naked people or sexual acts, and is intended to produce feelings of sexual pleasure.

4. taste : n-sing

If you have a taste for something, you have a liking or preference for it.

5. syphilis : noun 梅毒

Syphilis is a serious disease which is passed on through sexual intercourse.

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