Kanamara Matsuri

*** 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.

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The penis forms the central theme of the event that is reflected everywhere — in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

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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.

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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.

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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 😛

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8 thoughts on “Kanamara Matsuri

  1. So you went to the Kanamara Matsuri?!
    Were you shocked?

    I went to that festival once years ago too.

    That shrine that the festival is held at is a Fertility Shrine where couples go who are trying to have a baby…or pregnant women hoping for a healthy birth.

  2. This event attracts a lot of attention every year when it is held. I’ve never had the chance to see it myself. Maybe next year. Great photos here, as always.

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    • Yes, the shrine where is festival is held is just outside the Kawasaki-Daishi station (just follow the crowds when you get of the station).

      To get to Kawasaki-Daishi station: From Shinagawa station, get on the Keikyu Ltd. Express to the Keiku-Kawasaki station and then transfer to the Kawasaki Daishi Line to Kawasaki-Daishi station. This should take less than 30 minutes.

      Have fun.

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