Parade the Penis: Kanamara Matsuri

Text & video by Phoebe Amoroso, cover image courtesy of Kanamara Shrine

Our roving reporter, Pheebz, visited the annual Kanamara Festival on April 7th, which involves a lot of phalluses. The Kanamara Shrine (literally, “Metal Penis Shrine”) is where people pray for sexual health and fertility.

The annual festival – informally known as “penis festival” – has been growing in popularity, with 30,000 visitors in 2016, 60% of those coming from overseas. Could watching the phallic parade be something of a release?

What’s the story behind this upstanding event? Watch the video below to peel back the mythological foreskin and get to the root of the matter.

The festival has its roots in local sex workers praying for protection against sexually-transmitted infections, but in recent years, it has come to represent LGBTQ and diversity with profits going towards HIV research.

Quite rightly, however, many have pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in a country, which made international headlines for condemning vagina art by Megumi Igarashi, better known as Rokudenashiko. Who was arrested on obscenity charges for distributing 3D data of her vagina that she used to 3D print a vagina canoe as part of her work.

Yet the obscenity of the flagrant double standards provokes discussion, and an event that promotes inclusivity is worth celebrating in a notoriously conservative society.

Many festival attendees are likely satisfied with pure spectatorship and sucking on phallic-shaped candy, and that’s fine too. But for maximum enjoyment, it’s worth digging a little deeper into the legend of a SAVAGE VAGINA DEMON (you read that right).

One legend has it that a beautiful woman was plagued by a jealous demon, who hid in her vagina and killed Husband Number 1 by biting off his penis. Husband Number 2 met a similar fate. Dismayed, she enlisted the help of a local blacksmith who seems to have been really chill about dealing with vagina demons. He made her a metal phallus, which she inserted. The demon, of course, bit it, but he broke his teeth and fled. Presumably she lived happily ever after, especially since she had her own personal metal phallus.

Come along for the ride – watch our report. ↑

Android Festival Takes Over Roppongi Hills–Ends June 20th.

Sure, Apple can claim they have the most popular and trendy smartphone, but do they sponsor festivals offering free food, ramune and games? (Editor’s note: Not yet). From June 16-20, the Android Company is holding a festival they’re calling “Matsuri with Android” at O-Yane Plaza in Roppongi Hills to endorse their various phones. Here are some of the main attractions at the festival:

Taico (太鼓) phone/drumming game

For anyone who’s played the taico arcade game that’s so hard to miss in Tokyo, you’ll enjoy this Android-ified version in which you take two Galaxy phones and bang on virtual drums as little symbols appear on a screen. What’s cool is every time you hit a beat correctly, a big wall of LED lights in front of you will glow in a rainbow-like explosion. Whoever hits the most correct notes and gets the high score will win a Nexus phone.

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Four contestants prepare to hit some virtual drums.

 

Virtual Android masks

Similar to those hip new Japanese photo booths that enlarge your eyes, the festival features a room that will have cameras scan your face and put a random android robot head on you. It’s pretty fun, but a little weird when you see random guys you don’t know trying to cram into the picture.

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A group watches their heads get Android-ed.

 

Food and drinks

If you download a specific Android app for your phone, you can go to several booths and get free cotton candy, yakitori and ramune (soda with a marble inside the top of the bottle that tastes like carbonated PEZ). Along with that is a café that sells custom green Android-themed lattes, fruit juice and cocktails (although the cocktail was pretty weak). It’s free and it’s fun. Imagine you’re at a matsuri (祭り)festival of future Japan and it’s quite fun. Even if you belong to the Cult of Mac.

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Try out a green late or cocktail at the Hills Cafe.