Celebrating fertility is HUGE and highly respected in Japan. Chris and I wanted to join in this beautiful experience by attending the “Hōnen Matsuri”.Hōnen Matsuri is a fertility festival celebrated every year in Japan. Hōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. We caught a bunch of trains out, way out, to a very small town where we got off at Tagata-jinja-mae train station. We were starving and there were heaps of food stalls, so we looked and stopped at the first one that looked the best. We got a big sausage on a stick, best sausage we ever had. As we walked around we realised we didn’t have much money on us, and nothing takes card. So we asked where we could get some cash out and the lady said there is a “combiny” store 2kms away. That’s it. So really, what choice did we have? None. We did the walk and discovered they did not take international cards. The convenience store was not so convenient. We only had $10. There was nothing we could do, except catch the train back to a more populated area and find a 7/11, so that’s what we did. It took so long and was so ridiculous that it turned into ridiculously funny. So glad we could find the humour in all of this. Once we got the money we caught the train straight back, just in time for the main event. There was a lovely parade with its main attraction: A really big piece of wood carved perfectly into the shape of man’s greatest tool for fertility. There were also ones the size of a baby, that a bunch of ladies were carrying like babies. People would pat their heads for good luck. Chris threw in a little tickle on the chin for good measure. There was a man throwing salt or something into people’s hands, I guess another way of blessing maybe. And other people were handing out free sake to everyone. The parade went right across the train line, so every time a train was coming, they would have to clear the people out of the way as the boomgates came down and the train would go thundering past. Then it would start up again. The streets were so packed to see this parade, it was really a cool experience. After the parade we went back to the food stalls and got more delicious things. There were many things shaped like a penis, the only thing we got was a banana on a stick covered in chocolate and it was good. After such an epic long day, full of so much excitement, we caught the train back again and this time for the last time.

To experience Nagoya city to the fullest we got a gold bus that took us around to all the main attractions. The one we spent all our time at was the science museum. Its full of interactive things to do, which is my kind of place. There were 5 level of all this crazy science goodness. There was also an amazing park just outside where there were heaps of people dancing in all different styles. So we brought ice cream and sat and watched.

Nagoya was packed out. When we wanted dinner, every restaurant was full. We had to try so many, until we finally found one that had one table left, surrounded by people smoking! With no windows or anything, that was an experience. The hotels were full too, so we spent one night in an Internet cafe and another night in an Onsen called “Utopia”.

We had a 3hr bus ride home to Matsumoto and we seemed fine, but we did things that told us differently. When we went to get off the bus, the bus driver pointed back as we had left something, so we went and got it. Then we got off the bus and started slowly walking away, she was holding both of our backpacks and made some noise towards us to gesture “are these yours?”…Chris and I totally forgot about them. Then we went home and crashed out for a few hours. We were tired.

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