Nothing beats travel if you want to experience “something new.” From seeing new places, learning new things, meeting new people…there is a limitless opportunity to widen your horizon and explore what the world has to offer.
Another good thing about travel is that you learn about new culture—and this is one of the reasons many people travel—they want to commune with people from different walks of life, and understand the things that matter to them. True travelers acquire open-mindedness as they visit places, for there are things, events, too “strange” to understand, but prettily exist.
In our previous post, we shared a few of bizarre festivals that you might have not heard of. The Thaipusam of the Hindus and the Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand seem to be “out of this world” events, but yes, they are celebrated like any other normal feast. Now, we would like to introduce another festival and whether you like it or not, the Japanese annually celebrate, the Kanamara Matsuri aka “The Penis Festival.”
Kanamara Matsuri: What it is?
Kanamara Matsuri or the “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” while others put it bluntly as the “Festival of the Penis” is an annual celebration in Kawasaki, Japan held at the Kanayama Shrine every spring. The festival vary in dates, but always falls on the first Sunday of April.
If you think that Kanamara Matsuri is a festival created by people who have nothing to do with their lives, you are ultimately wrong! There is a rather a deeper root for this celebration and you might want to know it before you go and participate in the “Festival of the Penis.”
Yes, there is an origin. A legend back in the Edo era (1603-1867) that tells a story of a woman whom a demon fell in love with. The demon was sharp toothed, and as expected, the woman did not accept his love and married another man. Furious because of his unrequited love, the demon decided to possess the vagina of the woman and bites off the penis of the man she marries.
In desperation, the woman asks help from the people, and they decided to trick the demon. A blacksmith forged a penis made of steel, and when the demon tried to bite it off, all his teeth got broken and decided to leave the woman’s vagina for good.
The Kanamara Matsuri Ceremony
The iron phallus that broke the demon’s teeth had been enshrined in the sacred Kanayama Shrine. Over time, it became a popular destination for sex workers who prays for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Married couples who are wising to start a family also visit the shrine to ask of fertility blessings.
The festival starts with a symbolic ceremony of lighting of the sacred flame at the Kanayama Shrine. The devotees will parade together with a pink phallus (called Elizabeth Mikoshi).
What Happens at the Festival?
Kanamara Matsuri showcases a light-hearted vibe. Since it is becoming a widely popular tourist event, people from all over the world gather to have a good laugh and a good time. The festival may be all about penis, but it is not an erotic event. Expect a flooding phallus, as you can see carving and shapes of the male organ at almost everywhere. Penis lollipops, waxworks, chocolates, fake nose, hats, key chains, and more can be purchased in souvenir tents on the street.
Many people who participate in the event are also dressed fancily. You can spot Batman, Superman, Naruto, Sakura, and even Pikachu in the celebration. As Cosplay is a trend in Japan, you can also go sightseeing and take a picture with your favourite anime character.
Want to Join Kanamara Matsuri 2015?
If you are planning to visit Japan and experience Kanamara Matsuri yourself. You can start booking for your travel now. By train, Kawasaki is just a 30 minutes ride from Tokyo, just get off when you reach the Kawasaki-Daishi Station.
Kanamara Matsuri does look like a “strange” festival especially for people who are not used to see sexual symbols displayed on public. However, the Japanese people and the tourists who get to participate in the festival could attest that the celebration is not “sexualized” in any way. Children even come with their parents, and they happily try those phallic shaped candies that abound in the festivity.
No matter how weird the festival may look like, Kanamara Matsuri is your usual celebration…a celebration of man’s ability to reproduce.