Whether it is a stroll along Harajuku, a lunch at character café or a visit to a public festival you are never short of coming across something quirky and bizarre when traveling in Japan. Today was not an exception as my friends and I headed out to take part in Kanamaru Matsuri, or the “Festival of the Steel Phallus.” Known colloquially as the “Penis Festival”, this annual celebration of fertility is held in Kanayama Shrine on the first Sunday of April. kanamara-matsuri-19The moment you approach the shrine you know you are at the right place. Festive signage adorns the grounds, while number of souvenir stalls sells penis-themed knickknacks. The most popular item was definitely the penis (and vagina) shaped lollipops. kanamara-matsuri-17kanamara-matsuri-18kanamara-matsuri-2kanamara-matsuri-3kanamara-matsuri-4kanamara-matsuri-5kanamara-matsuri-16kanamara-matsuri-23Although nothing could beat the sight of three large phallic portable shrines (mikoshi) that are carried throughout the streets in a parade at noon. kanamara-matsuri-14The pink one is called Elizabeth and has been donated by a drag queen club of the same name. kanamara-matsuri-7kanamara-matsuri-6Despite the nasty rainy weather the festival gathered crowds of locals as well as tourists enthusiastic to pose in front of the giant phalli. The ceremony started with a Shinto ritual where the priest blessed the statues in order to “transfer” the Gods from the shrine to the mikoshi. kanamara-matsuri-12kanamara-matsuri-11The statues are then carried around the neighborhood to another shrine before they are returned back to Kanayama Shrine.

According to the legend, the Great Steel Phallus was constructed to exorcise a demon from a young woman’s vagina.  He had lodged himself there after she refused his romances, and used his sharp teeth to bite off the penis of any man who was brave enough to make love to her.  A local blacksmith forged a steel phallus and upon its insertion, the demon’s teeth were broken and he finally left the woman’s vagina. kanamara-matsuri-13Kanamara Matsuri commemorates this legend while Kanayama Shrine was constructed to honor the Shinto deities of childbirth and lower abdomen health. The shrine became renowned as a site for sex workers to pray for protection against STDs. Nowadays the shrine is said to aid fertility, while the festival itself exudes acceptance and welcomes people of any sexuality. kanamara-matsuri-22kanamara-matsuri-21Well, if you want to get a unique insight into Japanese culture and experience something unique (after all, how often do you get to see the veneration of the life-creating male sex organ?!) Kanamara Matsuri is definitely worth visiting.

P.S. Now I just wonder what sort of traffic my blog will attract after this post….

Details:

Plan to arrive early (10 a.m.) to be able to buy one of those popsicles as they tend to sell out pretty fast. You also will get a better chance to find a good spot for viewing the parade before it starts at 12:00 PM.

Address: 2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
Train station: Kawasaki-Daishi train station on the Keikyu Daishi Line. South exit.

xoxo, nano

Written by Nano @ Travel With Nano B.

Welcome to my site! I'm Nano, a serial expat trotting the globe to discover wonderful places and savor the gastronomic treasures of the world. Via Travel With Nano B. I'm spilling my love for travel and detailing my international culinary adventures one lil' blog post at a time. Currently based in Japan, I'm on a quest to explore this magnificent country and share my unique insight with you all. Worldly adventures, gourmet discoveries, cultural experiences, wanderlust photography, savvy travel tips - find it all on my page. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!

7 comments

  1. Oh my goodness, this is just the quirkiest- look at those lollipops! I went to the phallus museum in Iceland once – my hubby thought it would be “funny” and I was just refusing as I thought it would be too embarrassing but he persuaded me and then when we got there, it turned out that it was actually more like a big room of boilogical exhibits of all different type of animal phalluses (phalli?) so it turned out to be really interesting!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s