Japan’s Giant Penis Parade and Festival

Featured image by Takanori via Flickr

Every spring, something utterly “unique” springs up in Kawasaki, Japan. And by unique, we mean massive penises made out of a variety of materials. Yep, we’re not mincing words here. We’re talking about the infamous Kanamara Matsuri, Japan’s Penis Festival. Now, before you get all hot and bothered, let’s dive (not literally) into what this festival entails.

Japan's Penis Festival candy
Penis (and vulva) candy. Stealth3327, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Kanamara Matsuri or the “Festival of the Steel Phallus” is an annual Shinto festival where the central theme is the phallus – seen in candy, veggies, decorations, and parade floats that are so large they’d make any man blush. It’s held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine, which is dedicated to divine couple Kanayama-hiko and Kanayama-hime, protectors of sexuality and also, blacksmiths.

This festival has turned heads (not those heads, folks) since 1969, and in recent years, it has become a destination for tourists looking to immerse themselves in something “hardcore.” With an array of phalluses on parade, you’d think it’s a Mardi Gras but with more…shafts.

Guilhem Vellut via Flickr

One question that may rise (pun intended) is, “Why a festival celebrating male genitals?” Well, the legend says a jealous demon hid inside a woman’s vagina and bit off her husband’s penis. Talk about a bad way to end your honeymoon!

Today, the festival goes beyond being a tribute to a historical legend and includes a more modern perspective: promoting safe sex and raising awareness about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a combination of traditions and modernity, brought together in a rather ‘stiff’ manner.

Guilhem Vellut via Flickr

The main attraction at Kanamara Matsuri is the grand mikoshi parade. Three human-sized phalluses are carried on palanquins through the streets to the Kanayama temple – one is a black iron phallus, another a wooden willy, and the third a pink prick. (The wooden penis is the oldest, the black one glows, and the pink one is a giant dildo gifted by crossdressers.) Every participant, from families, toddlers, the elderly, to local Japanese drag queens, cheer on as these monumental members are erected towards the sky.

stealth3327, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

While Kanamara Matsuri is seen as “quirky” or even bizarre, it’s a solemn religious affair rooted in Shintoism, Japan’s nature-worshipping religion. Far from being just a festival that creates chuckles, it shows that Japan isn’t shy about celebrating sexuality and fertility, and that inclusivity and acceptance come in many different, even surprising forms.

Every year, the festival attracts a diverse crowd, estimated to be around 30,000 to 50,000 people, including married couples, foreign visitors, and people of all sexual identities and backgrounds, offering them a chance to pray for fertility, business prosperity, and good marital relationships.

So, if you’re looking for a unique cultural experience (and perhaps a laugh), Kanamara Matsuri may just be the festival for you. And remember, it’s all in good fun! After all, what’s more fun than a giant penis parade? Right? Anyone?

elmimmo via Flickr

Written by Editorial Team

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