In Japan, they have very open view on sex and nothing shows the country’s unabashed attitude toward sexy time more than the Penis Festival. Every year since 1969 in Kawasaki, Japan, people celebrate the Festival of the Steel Phallus. The Penis Festival, also known as Kanamara Matsuri, is a spiritual event celebrating the penis and fertility.
For the past five decades, Kanayama Shrine in Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture of Kawasaki has been coming to life every spring with a fertility festival that pays tribute to the penis.
If that sounds bizarre – and it should, given that this is ranked as one of Japan’s “kisai” or “bizarre festivals” – the legend behind it is even more extraordinary, as the celebration is said to be inspired by a toothy demon who once took up residence inside a woman’s vagina after she rejected him.
According to the tale, the demon repeatedly bit down on the woman’s husband’s penis, prompting her to pay a blacksmith to create a steel phallus so hard it would break the demon’s teeth. This steel shaft then destroyed the demon, instantly restoring fertility, and now a phallus replica and the spirit of the blacksmith is preserved at the shrine, with both being paraded around the neighbourhood once a year in a lively celebration involving more than 50,000 attendees. ? The venerated items are taken out on mikoshi floats on the shoulders of worshippers
for the Kanamara Matsuri (“Festival of the Steel Phallus”)
The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The phallus, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.
2020 date: April 5
2021 date: April 4
2022 date: April 3
2023 date: April 2
Date: First Sunday in April
Back in the 1600s, local sex workers would pray at the shrine for protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and today that protection is still going strong, as the annual festival is now used to raise money for HIV research.
While the cleverly designed patterns look cute at first glance, on closer inspection it becomes clear that they’re made up of penises and a sperm-filled flow of ejaculate.
And the fun won’t end on the cover, as there will also be a special inscription inside, featuring some expert calligraphy showing the name of the shrine and the date of the festival.
The Kanayama Shrine Goshuincho is a unique item that combines religion, mythology, tradition and the male genitalia in one handy book. And it’s sure to raise the eyebrows of priests, monks, and maidens at every other temple or shrine you visit in Japan.
Only available to purchase from the shrine between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the day of the festival, these books are sure to sell out fast. So if you want to get your hands on one, don’t forget to reserve some extra yen in your pocket after buying all the penis-related paraphernalia at the festival.
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