Japan is known for many things, including cherry blossoms and exquisite cuisine. However, not everyone knows that Japan is home to a world-renowned festival that is both mind-blowing and unforgettable. The ‘Penis Festival,’ or the Kanamara Matsuri, is a joyous celebration of fertility, phallic symbols, and good times in Japan. The Kanamara Matsuri isn’t just about shock value. It has a rich history dating back to the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries). 

According to legend, a jealous demon fell in love with a young woman and moved in, killing all her possible suitors. The woman eventually enlisted the help of a blacksmith, who created an iron phallus that snapped the demon’s teeth, rendering him harmless. In more contemporary times, the Kanamara Matsuri has evolved to celebrate safe delivery, fertility, and the prevention of STDs. The festival also promotes safe sex practices and brings attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Kanamara Matsuri Festival

Held annually on the first Sunday in April at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, just a short trip from Tokyo, the Kanamara Matsuri draws visitors from across the globe. Giant statues and decorations depicting phallic figures will greet you as you approach the shrine. The focal point of the festival, a gigantic pink penis paraded through the streets, is impossible to miss. From inquisitive visitors to local families, you will see people of all ages enthusiastically participating in the celebrations.

As with any Japanese festival, food takes center stage at the Kanamara Matsuri. Vendors line the streets, offering many delicious treats. From phallic-shaped candies and cookies to ‘manhood’ popsicles and sake served in, you guessed it again, phallic cups – your appetite will be in for a wild ride.

Another wonderful thing about the Kanamara Matsuri is how welcoming it is to all. The festival offers an opportunity to celebrate diversity and acceptance while bringing attention to LGBTQ+ issues. It represents love in all its manifestations and has recently become a popular spot for same-sex weddings.

The Kanayama Shrine

The phallic imagery of the festival may be the main attraction, but don’t let that distract you from the revered Kanayama Shrine. Located in Kawasaki, this Shinto shrine is dedicated to Kanayamahiko-no-kami, the deity of blacksmiths and protection against various ailments. Visitors to the shrine can offer prayers for fertility, safe childbirth, and protection against STDs. Don’t hesitate to join in – the atmosphere is lively and welcoming.