Local worshippers carry a portable shrine holding a phallic symbol into Tagatajinja shrine at an annual fertility festival on March 15. (Video footage by Yoichi Kawatsu)

KOMAKI, Aichi Prefecture--Size matters at a fertility festival here, where the big attraction is a 300-kilogram phallus measuring 2.5 meters long with a diameter of 60 centimeters.

The not-so-private part went on parade at Tagatajinja shrine here, where the annual festival has been handed down for more than 1,000 years as a prayer for a good harvest and prosperous family.

The large wooden phallic symbol, called "o-owasegata," is placed on a "mikoshi" portable shrine and paraded up to the main hall of the shrine. It is sculpted every year using "hinoki" cypress wood from the local Kiso region.

Shrine officials said 88,000 visitors took in this year's festival on March 15 and insisted there is nothing naughty in their enthusiasm.

"The o-owasegata represents the fountainhead of life. This is not an obscene sexual festival, but a traditional religious event based on the beliefs of people from ancient times," said one shrine official.

Local men who are of an age when they are believed to be under a cloud of misfortune carry the portable shrine for about 700 meters from nearby Kumanojinja shrine to Tagatajinja. The weaving parade takes about 90 minutes to reach its destination.

The climax of the parade comes in front of the main hall of Tagatajinja when the shrine is spun around a number of times as visitors applaud and cheer on the participants.

Five women dressed in traditional attire add a special touch to the event as they accompany the portable shrine while holding much smaller versions of the phallic symbol.