Size matters at Japan’s phallus festival Shinto Kanamara Matsuri

  • Shinto Kanamara Matsuri started as a small tradition but has grown into a large tourist attraction in the last 40 years
  • The Festival of the Steel Phallus originated from prostitutes to pray for good business and protection from STIs
  • Giggling festival-goers posed with phallus-shaped sculptures at this year’s festival, which took place on Sunday 

Size matters at the Shinto Kanamara Matsuri, where groups of locals parade three heavy phalluses around the city – the biggest was as tall as a full-grown man.

Japanese revellers carried giant phalluses through the streets of Kawasaki on Sunday to worship the humble penis and fertility in one of the world’s most unusual festivals.

Giggling festival-goers, including young children and grandmothers dressed in kimonos, sucked on penis lollipops and posed with phallus-shaped sculptures.

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Japanese revellers carried giant phalluses through the streets of Kawasaki on Sunday to worship the humble penis and fertility in one of the world's most unusual festivals 

Japanese revellers carried giant phalluses through the streets of Kawasaki on Sunday to worship the humble penis and fertility in one of the world’s most unusual festivals 

The festivities, known as Festival of the Steel Phallus, originated from prostitutes who wished to pray for good business and protection from sexually transmitted diseases

The festivities, known as Festival of the Steel Phallus, originated from prostitutes who wished to pray for good business and protection from sexually transmitted diseases

More than 20,000 people gathered to enjoy the annual festival which Shinto believers carry giant phalluses through the streets

More than 20,000 people gathered to enjoy the annual festival which Shinto believers carry giant phalluses through the streets

An anatomically correct radish-carving contest drew a large crowd of sniggering onlookers, while blushing parents perched babies on a giant see-saw of frighteningly accurate likeness to pray for fertility.

Tens of thousands gather every spring for the festival, where they can buy keepsakes such as key chains, trinkets, pens, chocolates and even toy glasses with a plastic penis nose.

For the local priest of the Kanayama Shrine, however, it is no laughing matter.

‘If young children are not used to seeing (male genitalia), they could get into a bit of a panic when the time comes,’ Hiroyuki Nakamura said, explaining the festival’s educational role.

‘People come to pray for good fortune and to ask the gods to protect them. The festival is steeped in the past but has still has a valuable part to play in modern society.’

Known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus – or colloquially as the ‘Willy Festival’ – legend has it that in the Edo Period (1603-1868) a sharp-toothed demon inhabiting a woman’s vagina castrated several unfortunate young men on their wedding nights.

A local blacksmith came to the rescue by forging an iron dildo to break the demon’s teeth and today a three-foot black steel phallus sits in the shrine’s courtyard to honour the Shinto deities of fertility, childbirth and protection from sexually transmitted infections.

Residents of Kawasaki carry phalluses of all different sizes while participating in a tradition that began nearly 40 years ago

Residents of Kawasaki carry phalluses of all different sizes while participating in a tradition that began nearly 40 years ago

Tens of thousands gather every spring for the festival, where they can buy keepsakes such as key chains, trinkets, pens, chocolates and even toy glasses with a plastic penis nose

Tens of thousands gather every spring for the festival, where they can buy keepsakes such as key chains, trinkets, pens, chocolates and even toy glasses with a plastic penis nose

Over the centuries, sex workers also made a pilgrimage to the shrine to seek its powers of protection before the festival became a tourist attraction in the 1970s.

‘I think it’s brilliant,’ said Sayuri Kubo, a 14-year-old schoolgirl proudly holding an erotic lollipop. ‘The mikoshi (portable shrine) parade was awesome.’

Three mikoshi are lugged through the streets of Kawasaki, including a giant pink phallus called Elizabeth, donated by a local drag queen club.

There is a serious side to the frivolity, despite the bizarre sight of normally reserved Japanese housewives posing for snapshots with oversized dildos.

Proceeds from sales of the saucy memorabilia go to HIV research while the shrine itself is visited year-round by married couples hoping to start a family. 

Shinto Kanamara Matsuri, the Festival of the Steel Phallus, started as a small tradition but has grown into a popular a tourist attraction

Shinto Kanamara Matsuri, the Festival of the Steel Phallus, started as a small tradition but has grown into a popular a tourist attraction

Proceeds from sales of the saucy memorabilia go to HIV research while the shrine itself is visited year-round by married couples hoping to start a family

Proceeds from sales of the saucy memorabilia go to HIV research while the shrine itself is visited year-round by married couples hoping to start a family

‘It’s about propagating the species,’ nursery school teacher Natsuki Kanayama said, holding lollipops in both hands with another poking out of her cleavage. ‘I’m praying that I can have as many children as possible.’

Not surprisingly, however, the festival drew curious stares from visiting foreigners.

‘It’s insane,’ said American tourist Jason Bradley. ‘I’ve heard about ‘Cool Japan’ – I guess this is what they mean.’

 Locals parade giant phalluses through the streets, and were said to have drawn some curious stares from visiting foreigners

 Locals parade giant phalluses through the streets, and were said to have drawn some curious stares from visiting foreigners

Visitors pose with phallus-shaped lollipops in front of a large pink shrine. The festival is held annually on the first Sunday in April, attracting hundreds of visitors from both inside and outside Japan

Visitors pose with phallus-shaped lollipops in front of a large pink shrine. The festival is held annually on the first Sunday in April, attracting hundreds of visitors from both inside and outside Japan

People visit the shrine to pray for everything from fertility and business prosperity to wedded bliss and good health

People visit the shrine to pray for everything from fertility and business prosperity to wedded bliss and good health







Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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