Ritual use of phallic objects or stones alongside of female figurines increased during the Middle Jomon period

The Middle Jomon Period was when Japan saw an increase in not only female figurines, but as well as ritual phallic objects and stones.

Phallic object called Sekkan (stone crown), Middle Jomon, Kitadai iseki, Toyama prefecture

In terms of proximity, a knobbed “phallic-topped” earthen lid has been excavated from the Tapadong cave of  Sabah, Borneo, that closely resemble the sekkan phallic objects in Jomon Japan. These phallic shaped earthenware are associated with other items being traded with China. In the Jomon context, scholars believe that the Jomon stone industry has the greatest affinity with the Tanshishan, Fujian and Guangdong coastal areas.  Ancient phallic worship has also been detected in western China, in Xian.

Ritual use of phallic rods and phallic worship proliferated in early prehistoric times, particularly from the Middle Jomon period onwards. Phallic worship may have been introduced by the YAP+ element*-bearing peoples who merged or admixed with the predominantly Y-chromosomal D haplogroup-carrying Jomon populations of Japan. (*The YAP element or“Y Alu polymorphic” (YAP) element (Hammer 1994) — is a polymorphism that resulted from the single and stable insertion of a member of the repetitive Alu family at a specific site (locus DYS287) on the long arm of the human Y chromosome during the past 29,000-334,000 years.)

Stone phallic rods, from Asahi, Hokkaido, the Final to Late Jomon Periods,

Final~Late Jomon ritual phallic stone rods, Asahi (Photo: Asahi Shimbun)

Deer bone phallic object Miyazai Numazu shellmound Final Jomon Tokai U

Phallic stone henges also sometimes accompanied or were paired with a shorter broader or rounded “female” one like the one from Kitazawa, Nagano prefecture in the photo below.

Large stone pillars or henges from the Late Jomon, Kizawa, Nagano prefecture

Most scholars are agreed that fertility festivals and phallus worship existed in prehistoric central and Eastern Asia, including prehistoric Japan (continuing in shrines and festivals like the Hoen Matsuri (Komaki city, Aichi) or the Kanamara Matsuri, in Kawasaki), through to modern day Japan).

Wooden phallic object from the Yagie iseki, Kayabe-gun, Minami Kayabe-cho, Hokkaido

The Asuka-ni-imasu Shrine is one such shrine that has been extant since at least 686, and an ancient book recorded that the shrine was moved to here in 829. From ancient times, the shrine was venerated for its deity associated with the harmony of married couples. Not surprisingly, many stone anatomical parts of the male and female are enshrined in the precincts.

Another famous and ancient fertility festival is the Hounen Matsuri or the celebration of the Kinro Kansha no Hi.

“Honen Matsuri  is an annual event celebrated by the people of Japan. According to the official Japanese history, Tamahime (the daughter of the feudal lord) was betrothed to Takeinadane. Later it is said that Takeinadane was killed in the battle and the area was fully controlled and developed by his wife, children and powerful father-in-law. Hence after Tamahime’s death, she is considered as the principal deity (also called kami) by the people of Japan. The day is observed to establish a spiritual bond between the people and the spirits. The word Hōnen means rich harvest and Matsuri means festival and worship. It is also believed that Japanese deities preside over living, dead or inanimate things on this day. Thus, the event is celebrated to preserve their goodwill. Honen Matsuri is also frequently referred to as a festival of celebrating fertility and renewal. In Japan, penis is considered as a symbol of strength and power.

 Kinrō Kansha No Hi – Ways to celebrate Kinrō Kansha No Hi in Japan

Hōnen Matsuri is held at Tagata Jinja on March 15th of each year. Tagata Jinja is an ancient shrine which is believed to be 1500 years old and it stands on the site of Tamahime’s residence. The day is celebrated mostly with a procession symbolizing the visit of the male Takeinadane to the powerful and waiting female Tamahime. Japanese believe that newly made objects express more purity and vitality. Hence every year they carry the cypress tree to the shrine to carry out the purification. Once the tree is done with the purification rituals it is then taken before the master craftsman to shape it. Every year they carve a new giant wooden phallus from the purified large hinoki (cypress) tree. It is this wooden phallus that will be paraded and then placed into the Shinmeisha shrine with prayers. On this day many vendors sell different kinds of traditional festival foods. The list includes Takoyaki (a round ball made of flour with octopus inside), okonomiyaki (a food made from flour and vegetables on a flat grill), sweets, yakitori (chicken on a stick), oden (vegetable stew), beer, sake, corn on the cob and yakisoba (a kind of stir-fried noodles)”

Pairings of male phallic stones with rounded female stones appear to have evolved later into the paired dosojin and/ sainokami steles or stones (see the ones at the Asuka Niimasu Shrine which lies in the location where closeby are the ancient ruins of the Asuka Okamoto and Kiyomihara Palaces of Asuka) that can be seen along the many ancient paths around Japan, having emerged in those forms from the Asuka to Nara periods onwards. They may have evolved more stele-like forms due to the influx and influence of Tibetan and Indian migrants (and other migrants from the South-western Asia who brought both Buddhism and fertility rites to Japan.

In this light, influences from ancient phallic lingam worship (alongside of yoni worship) that is also seen in the Bengal East Indian region and in Northwest areas of India also need to be considered.

Arguably the most important phallic symbol in Japan is the “pillar of heaven” called Ame-no-mihashira at the centre of the Cosmic Dance of the Izanagi and Izanami deities.


In exploring the provenance of the myths iconography, we scrutinize certain of the peculiar components of the “Izanagi and Izanami” royal myth of early Japanese chiefly kings of Yamato and of the Kofun period and subsequent emperors of the historic period.  Striking comparisons and commonalities have been pointed out between this royal myth and that of the Hindu Isani and Iswara myth which is also a royal myth of the Rajput-Gahlot-Sisodian  clans and Sila princes of Northwest India. Stephen Oppenheimer in his book “Eden in the East” observed the common fertility ritual significance of the sacred tree or pillar and the mating ritual that takes place around it. A similar observation of the Bacchus-like nature of the phallic worship of the Indian deities was made by:

A writer in the Edinburgh Review for February, 1811, says:—“The most ancient worship of which any trace is left in Hindustan, is that of Osiris or Bacchus, whose Indian names are Iswara and Baghesa. In him, and in the gods of his family, or lineage, we recognise the divinities adored by the ancient Egyptians. That Osiris and Bacchus were the same divinity, is attested by the unanimous suffrage of all the writers of antiquity. But the most ancient Bacchus was not celebrated as the god of wine, a character ascribed to that divinity in later times. The Egyptians assert that Osiris conquered India; and indeed his expedition to that region is the subject of the celebrated epic poem of Nonnus. We by no means contend for the reality of these expeditions; but it is an indisputable fact that the worship of Osiris, distinguished by the same attributes and emblems, has continued in India from the earliest ages to this day, under the appellation of Iswara. This, we think, may be completely proved by a comparative survey of both, before, as patron of the vine, he assumed in Europe a new character.
“Osiris was adored in Egypt, and Bacchus in Greece, under the emblem of the Phallus. It is under the same emblem that he is still venerated in Hindustan; and Phalla is one of the names of Iswara in the dictionary of Amara Singha. The bull was sacred to him in Egypt. Plutarch assures us that several nations of Greece depict Bacchus with a bull’s head; and that when he is invoked by the women of Elis they pray him to hasten to their relief on the feet of a bull. In India he is often seen mounted on a bull; hence one of his Sanscrit names Vrishadwaja, signifying, whose ensign is a bull. Plutarch inform us that ‘Nilum patrem ac servatorem suæ regionis, ac defluxum Osiridis nominant.’ The Ganges in like manner is fabled by the Hindoos to flow from the tresses of Siva; hence another of his names, Gangadhara, the supporter of the Ganges. We conceive by the way, that Scaliger and Selden are mistaken in supposing that Siris, the Egyptian name of the Nile, is synonymous with Osiris. Siris seems to us the Sanscrit word Saras, a river in general, or the river, from its imputed superiority. Isis is the consort of Osiris; Isa that of Iswara, or Siva. The attributes of the goddesses might be shown to correspond as precisely as those of their lords. — Phallic Miscellanies: Facts and Phases of Ancient and Modern Sex Worship, as Illustrated Chiefly in the Religions of India by Hargrave Jennings



For a detailed discussion of the various similarities and the provenance of the two mirror–mythologies, see  Isani-and-Iswara vs Izanagi and Izanami: The common Vedic Saka-Scythian-Sila origins of the royal myths of Indian and Japanese tribes 

Sources and references:

Phallic worship was widespread in the world in ancient times

Borneo’s Prehistoric “Turtle-Ware” and “Phallic-Top” Lidded Pots by Tom Harrison

LAPTEFF, Sergey “Relationships between Jōmon Culture and the Cultures of the Yangtze, South China, and Continental Southeast Asian Areas” Japan Review, 2006, 18:249-286

Prehistoric China (Ancient Wisdom) on phallic objects from Xian

Department of Asian Art. “Jomon Culture (ca. 10,500–ca. 300 B.C.)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/jomo/hd_jomo.htm (October 2002)

Asuka Village on the history of the Asuka Nimasu Shrine

A Garden of Phalli  and the Phalli Stones of Asuka Nimasu Shrine

Honen Matsuri (Harvest Festival) at Tagata Shrine (Jinja/ Temple) Komaki City, Aichi / Tagata Jinja Honen Matsuri (Komaki City, Aichi)

Tamahime-jinja Shrine (Komaki city, Aichi) see the phallic stones of the Oku-no-miya-stone; the phallic offering to the god  and the shrine’s Honden venerating Tamahime-no-mikoto, daughter of a powerful 5th c. local lord … not to be confused with the Tamahime Shrine that is dedicated to the Toyotama Princess Otohime of Ryugu Castle from the famous story.

Ikonohayami Tamahime Jinja (Mt Ninomiya) was one of the oldest shrines in the area

Japanese fertility rites

Thanksgiving Day in Japan (Honen Matsuri)

Phallus – Wikipedia

Anthropomorphic statuettes from Cucuteni-Tripolye

Who are the Ainu people?; YAP+ element in the Y-chromosomes of the Ainu

Ethnic India: A genomic view with special reference to peopling and structure

The Impact of Aryans aand Vedas on Religions of India – this excerpt below throws light on the common aspects and probable common Saka-Scythic provenance of pillar and other forms of phallic worship seen in Japan.

“Sacrificial pillars are another remnant of the Scythian. They are abundant in the regions surrounding Rajputana which comprise the historic Sakasthan:

“In Saurasthra, amidst the Catti, Comani, Balla and others of Scythic descent, the Pallia or Joojar (sacrificial pillars) are conspicuous under the walls of every town, in lines, irregular groups and circles. On each is displayed in rude relief the warrior, with the manners of his death, lance in hand, generally on horseback, though sometimes in his car.– [Met.73 ]”

“Stone circles are another feature generally recognised as representing Saka domination. The Jesuits found amidst the Comani of Tartary stone circles, a circumstance which testifies to the Scythic heritage of the region. Baron Metcalfe noted that “it would require no great ingenuity to prove an analogy, if not a common origin, between Druidic circles and the Indu-Scythic monumental remains.” [ Met.73 ]”

Photo credit: Asahi Shimbun

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