Viewers discretion is advised as it has adult content. This piece is not for those below 18.
Ibiene takes you inside the Japanese festival dedicated entirely to penis.
Weird festival, right?
Well, some cultures pay particular attention to what others do not take as serious. This time around the Japanese is giving us a surprise.
Japan is a destination of festivities, giving opportunities for the locals and even tourists to exchange the structures of daily life for drinking, dancing and generally letting their hair down. At the Kanamara Matsuri or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, the people set aside the cultural sexual repression for one joyful day of cross-dressing, penis-shaped lollipops and, of course, a few giant phalluses.
Early April (6th) in Kawasaki, Japan, is set aside for the Kanamara Matsuri, interpreted the festival of the steel phallus, in which a hundred thousand revelers come here to celebrate the male organ.
History holds it that a jealous, red-faced, sharped-tooth demon hid in the private part of a goddess and then bit off, to their great surprise, the penises of her first two husbands. Unfortunately for the ill-determined demon, a third and smart suitor who is a blacksmith created an iron phallus that broke the demon’s teeth; the man won over the beautiful goddess while the demon presumably returned to base counting his losses.
Upon that victory, a shrine was built – the Kanayama Jinja Shrine in Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo. Though humble, it has stood the test of time. Made of old stone and boasting a small but pretty network of traditional orange torii gates, it was built in roughly 698 CE — but is now more famously home to the festival — in prim and proper Japan, an unusual but charming celebration of the sacred and the profane.
On the day of the festival, beautifully frocked Shinto priests in the shrine celebrate the thousands-year-old idol, long worshiped for different reasons- by prostitutes fearing disease and pilgrims worried for their fertility among others. Tens of thousands of partiers take to the streets, each grabbing a small piece of penis-like looking lollipops, dancing, eating, drinking and taking pictures.
Locals work months ahead to make the enormous genitals carried on the shoulders of teams of men through Kawasaki’s tight streets. Three, in total, are carried around town; two are of metal and one, true to Japan’s contemporary anime-loving culture, is of the cheery, bubblegum-hued cartoon variety, and lofted by 18 fellows wearing glitter and fantastic makeup.
For the prudish, it might be hard to see, but it does have its benefits: These days, sales from the festival — penis clothing, candy, food, toys — rake in gobs of money every year, put towards HIV research.
This year marks a half century for the festival in its modern form. Visitors wanting to see it themselves, and unafraid to face the throbbing masses, can make it to Kawasaki from Tokyo in an easy day trip on the first Sunday of April, any year, and see for themselves the giant phalluses of Kawasaki — and the many men who get them up.
Although the festival will take place in 2021, there will be no parade and no public attendance due to COVID-19.
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