There is no stronger celebration of the male sex organ in the world than the Kanamara Matsuri or the Festival of the Steel Phallus in Kawasaki, Japan. This ancient religious tradition has been celebrated on the first Sunday of April since 1977. This year, it fell on April 3. Kanamara Matsuri is a celebration of the penis and a prayer for fertility, long marriages, healthy births and business prosperity.
Kanamara Matsuri has evolved from simple festival into a modern day tradition that is now attended by whole families.
The festival attracts many tourist and ex-pats and has also become popular with the lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and the queer community. Today, the festival promotes awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and raises funds for HIV research and prevention.
Japan’s Penis Festival – Kanamara Matsuri
Japan’s penis festival grew its roots in the 17th century during the Edo period. The Kanayama Shrine is where local girls congregated to pray for protection against sexually transmitted infection. The fear came from a traditional legend about a sharp-toothed demon (Vagina Dentata) that fell in love with the innkeeper’s beautiful daughter.
She did not love him back and married another man. Angered, the demon entered the young woman’s vagina and castrated the groom’s penis with his sharp teeth on their wedding night. When the woman remarried, the demon once again castrated the second husband’s penis. The young woman sought the help of a blacksmith who fashioned an iron phallus to use as bait for the demon. The woman inserted the iron phallus into her vagina. When the demon came to castrate her lover, he broke his teeth. The woman never had trouble finding a man again. To this day, an enormous iron phallus is the primary shrine at the Kanarama Matsuri.
If you’re not a fan of the cock, you might want to steer clear of Kawasaki on the first Sunday in April. By the same token, if you love cock this is the place to be! The penis is the epicenter of the entire festival. There are phallic objects everywhere.
A highlight is the the Mikoshi Parade. Men and women dress up in kimonos, sing, dance and parade three gigantic phallic-shaped portable Shinto shrines called ‘mikoshi’ down the streets to the Kanayama Shrine. You’ll see a huge black penis made of steel, a phallus made of wood and the Pink ‘mikoshi’ called the Elizabeth.
Kanamara Matsuri also celebrates fertility. Two large wooden phallic canons can be seen at the shrine. For most of the day they are being straddled (and humped) by couples hoping to have children. You can buy small souvenir penises and rub them along the large wooden phallic canon for good luck.
Don’t be surprised when you see grandmothers licking cock-shaped lollipops. The trade of the day is all kinds of penis-shaped foods. Many young Japanese women also wear phallic-shaped nose masks as they munch on phallus-shaped chocolates and candies.
At the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine, you’ll see young couples and the elderly lighting penis-shaped candles, seeking cures for impotence and infertility.
There are penis puppets, penis hats, penis costumes, wooden penises, iron penises, plastic penises, phallic-shaped toys, pens, whistles, key chains, can openers, masks…there’s a whole lot of dicks everywhere. There’s also a radish-carving contest and the most anatomically correct sculpture wins.
Despite the large amount of dicking around (excuse the pun), the Kanarama Matsuri is a religious festival. It’s not sexual or erotic. A lot of laughter can be heard throughout the day. It’s the kind of party where the whole country is invited to come together and have fun – children, teenagers, young adults, baby boomers, old adults, grandparents. The celebration has reached new heights in recent years, becoming something of a tourist attraction. What’s more, all proceeds raised from the event go towards HIV research. So if you missed out this year, book a plane ticket already and jump on board the penis party.