Kanamara Matsuri is an annual festival held on the first Sunday in April at Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki. The festival is known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus (also known as penis) and dates back to the 17th Century when prostitutes used to go to the shrine and pray for protection from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Today, the festival is a way to celebrate fertility and raise awareness about HIV/Aids and other STI. The Kanamara Matsuri continues to increase in popularity as many people flock to Japan from all over the world to be a part of the phallic action.
The main centrepiece of the festival is when a giant pink phallus-shaped mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) known as “Elizabeth” is paraded down the street carried by women and transgender whilst onlookers line the street. Also, straddling giant phallus-shaped wooden sculptures is also completely okay at this festival too.
A popular feature of many Japanese festivals is the food and Kanamara Matsuri is no different, except the focus here, of course, is on phallic-shaped food items. It seems the penis and vagina shaped lollipops are the most popular among festival-goers, as many people often arrive early and wait in long lines to ensure they don’t miss out.
The festival also provides you with the opportunity to purchase many phallus-shaped objects to buy as souvenirs for your friends and family. For that one person who seems to have everything, why not give them a phallus-shaped candle or even some fake glasses that has a penis for a nose? People also carve vegetables into phallus shapes too and have these auctioned off to the highest bidder.
This festival really is one that has to be seen to be believed. Everyone seems to have a great time, so if you are not too embarrassed and overwhelmed by the phallus then you should definitely check out the Kanamara Matsuri!
When: The first Sunday of April.
Kawasakidaishi-Kanko Website*Japanese Only