Chalk this up in the category of bizarre Japan. This weekend I had the chance to go to Kanamara Matsuri, commonly referred to by foreigners as “The Penis Festival.” Every year Kanamara Shrine holds this festival on the 1st Sunday in April in Kawasaki, Kanagawa. According to Wikipedia:
The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine, once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan’s prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony, etc. Today, the festival is used to raise money for HIV research. There’s also a legend of a demon that hid inside a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus that was used to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.
Metropolis had this to say in their article about Kanamara Matsuri:
Today, the highlights of this saucy festival include transvestites parading through the town’s streets carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine) with a humongous pink phallus on top. And, if that’s not guaranteed to make you blush as deeply as the surrounding cherry blossoms, then the spectacle of grandmas and grandpas sucking on carnal candy and sweetmeat replicas of this stupendous phallus, is more than likely to. Other attractions include locals carving penises out of daikon (radish), children and young women sitting astride penis-shaped seesaws for good luck and fertility blessings, as well as a seated banquet in the compound of Kanamara Jinja (aka Wakamiya Hachiman-gu shrine) where the phallic radishes are auctioned.
As you might expect, because of the nature of this festival, the photos and videos I have are probably not safe for work (NSFW), but neither are they x-rated. The photos and videos from Kanamara Matsuri are not for everyone; however, they are somewhat interesting, sometimes surprising, usually inappropriate and definitely bizarre. If this sounds like something that would interest you, then continue on at your own risk to see the photos and a movie.
I have been in Japan for more than 3 years now and I am very rarely surprised by much of anything anymore…That being said, I was surprised about a couple things at this festival…
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