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Unexpected stories about genis
Told by neudies.

Kanamara Matsuri Festival of the Steel Phallus


Since 1978, each Spring, thousands of people gather in Kawasaki, Japan, to celebrate Kanamara Matsuri, A.K.A the “Festival Of The Steel Phallus”.

Celebrated on the very first Sunday of April, the festival honors fertility and the almighty penis. Throughout the event, people of all ages parade massive phallic-shaped shrines up and down the streets, as attendees savor penis-shaped lollipops, buy penis-themed souvenirs, among other penile festivities. For the thrill-seekers, there’s even a sweet drink called amazake which, paired with a small dried fish, simulates the taste and texture of semen – Yummy?

A mikoshi (shrine) being carried by a crowd through one of Kawasaki’s streets.
Photo by Carlos Quiapo.

Three freinds enojoying some penis shaped sweets.
Photo by unknown source.

Tale has it, this event dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867), when a sharp-toothed demon fell madly in love with a beautiful woman. She however, did not return the demon’s affection and decided to wed another man. Angering the demon, he inhabited her vagina before her wedding, and upon consummating the marriage, the demon bit off the groom’s penis with his razor sharp teeth – Ouch!

A parade participant dressed as a tengu—a type of Shinto god found in Japanese folk religion.
Photo by Jason Haidar.

Ultimately the woman remarried and the jealous demon once again bit off her second hubby’s penis. This caused the upset villagers to cook up a plan to fool the demon. A local blacksmith built a steel phallus, and upon insertion into the woman’s vagina, the demon’s teeth were broken and he left her vagina forever.

Soon after, the happy ending was memorialized through the Kanamara Matsuri and the enshrinement of the real steel phallus at Kanayama Temple, built to honor Kanayama Hikonokami and Kanayama Himenokami, the Shinto gods of childbirth and lower abdominal health.

Wakamiya Hachimangu, shinto shrine in Kawasaki, Japan.
Photo courtesy of Kanayama Shrine.

Kanayama Shrine being carried by a crowd.
Photo courtesy of Kanayama Shrine.

The pinnacle of the festival is a procession that features three mobile mikoshi (shrines) that carry monumental sacred phallus sculptures through Kawasaki’s tight roads. There is a tradition of male carriers dressing like women, and women carriers dressing like men, but it’s not surprising to find everything in between.

A crowd carrying the Elizabeth Mikoshi.
Photo by Carlos Quiapo.

People celebrating at the festival.
Photo by Carlos Quiapo.

Once a small and unusual festival, Kanamara Matsuri has been popularized through social media, both in Japan and abroad. Bringing in over thirty-thousand attendees, with foreigners making up a great portion of this number.

Although some say the festival has lost part of it’s charm, this celebration is specially unique, as it welcomes everyone. From parents and children, young people in conventional gowns, and tourists, to Japanese drag queens and even the old-timers. Everyone can attend Kanamara Matsuri to honour fertility, childbearing and pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. The celebration generates lots of revenue and most of the proceeds help sustain much needed research towards HIV and AIDS.

Man wearing a toy penis as a nose.
Photo by unknown source.

A woman holding fruit shaped in the form of a large penis.
Photo by unknown source.

Man dressed in penis costume applauds the crowd.
Image courtesy of Kanayama Shrine.

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