*** Warning: This blog post contains adult (but no nudity) content ***
I have attended many Japanese festivals this past year, but one of the strangest and most crowded is the Kanamara Matsuri (also called Festival of the Steel Phallus in English), an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, just outside Tokyo, on April 5, 2009.
The penis forms the central theme of the event that is reflected everywhere — in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.
Once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases, it is said that there are divine protections in business prosperity and the clan’s prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony. There is also a legend of a sharp-toothed demon that hid inside the vagina of a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights with the young girl before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.
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.
Today, the festival is used to raise money for HIV research so many travelers from Europe or US visit and attend the festival. A giant pink penis … FTW 😛