A Look at Japan’s Annual Penis Worshipping Festival

The Kanamara Festival (かなまら祭り) is held on the first Sunday in April every year at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The shrine is just a three-minute walk from Kawasaki-Daishi Station on the Keikyu-Daishi Line.

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The festival centers around penises, which appear everywhere, as candy, on hats, and on clothing. Phallic-shaped objects or anything which has to do with sex are sold all around the shrine.

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In recent years, the festival has gained popularity among foreign residents in Japan, who flock to the festival in great numbers to see the penis-shaped objects. Don’t be surprised if half of the people you see are foreign. The staff are very friendly and can speak basic English.

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This fellow greets visitors as they enter the shrine.

 

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He’s a literal dick-head. As I posed for a picture with him, he whispered into my ear. “You’re cute. I love your freckles. Can I take you out to dinner?”

“No, thank you,” was my reply.

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As the beer and the chu-hi started to flow, things got a little wild at the festival.

 

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Even the men show their love for the penis. Some give offerings of money.
Even the men show their love for the penis. Some give offerings of money.

Despite the blatant sexual objects and the hilarity of it all, the festival has a much deeper meaning than just large penises being waved around with the cheery blooms in the background. Kanamara Shrine has long been a place for prostitutes to go pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases and prosperity in business. In addition, people visit the shrine to pray for easy childbirth, marriage, and matrimonial harmony.

Legend has it that a demon hid in the vagina of a young woman. On her wedding nights, both of her husbands had their penises bitten off, in a fashion reminiscent of a scene from Teeth. Determined to ensure that her third marriage was a charm, she sought the services of a blacksmith who fashioned an iron penis, which broke the demon’s teeth. The iron phallus is enshrined here.

 

The demon likely symbolizes an STD, rather than a castration. Either way, both are painful.
The demon likely symbolizes an STD, rather than a castration. Either way, both are painful.

The festival now serves as a way to raise awareness and funds for AIDs. All the proceeds from the sales as the festival go toward HIV research or other charitable causes such as the reconstruction for the 2011 earthquake.

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The most popular objects sold at the festival are the large penis and vagina-shaped lollipops, which visitors suck and slurp on as they walk around. The crowds around the lollipop stands are thick, and the sweets usually sell out by mid-afternoon.

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Expect to push and shove if you want to get your hands on some dick.
Expect to push and shove if you want to get your hands on some dick.

The highlight of the festival is the parade of portable shrines called mikoshi (神輿), which contain large phalluses. As the mikoshi head through the shrine gates, they bob up and down in a rhythmic movement. “The way they move is interesting,” remarked one visitor standing next to me. 

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The large, pink penis was pulled by transvestite women.

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Here a Shinto priest prays and bows to one of the iron penises enshrined in the mikoshi. Many visitors pay their respects at the shrine.

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In addition to penis-shaped objects everywhere, there is an abundance of little children.

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It's never too early to start.
It’s never too early to start.

All in all, the Kanamara Festival is an event where people show their love for the penis. Although Japan may blur out the genital parts in pornography, this country has an open attitude when it comes to sex.

7 thoughts on “A Look at Japan’s Annual Penis Worshipping Festival”

  1. There used to be many more penis shrines until the Meiji government had most removed. They wanted to be respectable to the West and saw the shrines as a problem.

    However they hide here and there. For example if you go to Hanazono Jinja in Shinjuku, just net to the bars in Golden Gai in Kabukicho and face the shrine from the street entrance you will see a small Inari shrine to the rtight of the pathway. Go through the tori and when you reach the Inanri shrine look up and you will see a large wooden penis spanning the path. This Inari shrine is often visited by couples.

  2. Tymour, I believe they are. It’s a fertility festival (though rather “weird” by Western standards of decorum and behavior). Japanese would probably ask about Americans: “Are those people thinking (when they shoot each other with guns every day, and can’t agree on reasonable laws on firearms)?” I guess “weirdness” is in the eye of the beholder. After factoring in everything, I think I actually prefer “weird Japan” to “weird U.S.A.”.

  3. A festival celebrating the phallus is a good idea, but men need to show it respect every day; one way is by using a first class penis health crème that can deliver amino acids and nutrients directly to the organ, helping to maintain its health.

  4. Seeing these images and reading these given sentences i am feeling that penis once upon a time was a great god of creation in the world. most of the countries of the world worshiping to penis till now in different wa in different cultures and creats.

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