Kanamara Matsuri-SPR

Kanamara Matsuri (Penis Festival)

A Festival Where Size Matters

The Kawasaki Kanamara Festival, held on the first Sunday of April, is one of the most crowded spring festivals in japan. This unique and quirky festival features three phallic portable shrines, which are cheerfully carried along in a boisterous procession by festival participants. The festival is also known for its variety of phallus-themed merchandise and food, making it a truly one-of-a-kind event.

The festival takes place in Kawasaki, a city located just a short train ride away from major Tokyo stations. The venue for the festival is the Kanayama Shrine, which is located on the grounds of Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine. It is conveniently located just a 2-minute walk from Kawasaki-Daishi Station on the Keihin Express Daishi Line. For those coming from Yokohama Station, it takes about 15-20 minutes to reach Kawasaki-Daishi Station. From Shinjuku, it takes around 45-50 minutes on the JR Yamanote and Keihin Express Lines.

Traditionally, the Kanamara Matsuri was a festival where sex workers would come to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. However, today the festival has evolved into an event that fights against HIV and raises awareness about sexual health. The festival is also known as the Utamaro Matsuri, in reference to Kitagawa Utamaro, an artist who was famous for his erotic works.

The name “Kanamara” in Kanamara Matsuri originally meant an “obstacle to Buddhist practice,” but it has now become a euphemism for male genitalia. The festival has a grand and historical background, with its origins dating back several hundred years. It started as a local festival where sex workers would pray for protection from diseases and for renewal.

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Today, the festival has gained popularity not only in the local area but also among international travelers. It is famous for its three phallus-shaped mikoshi, or portable shrines, that participants carry in procession. The festival has gradually shifted its focus from the sex industry to a more general fertility rite, symbolizing successful pregnancy and marriage. In the 1980s, worshippers began attending the festival in hopes of warding off AIDS, and this was when the festival’s popularity started to spread outside the local area.

The highlight of the Kanamara Matsuri is the trio of outlandish erect phalluses carried on portable shrines. One of the portable shrines, called the Kanamara Boat Mikoshi, contains a phallus made of black iron. Another portable shrine, known as “Elizabeth,” is a pink shaft donated by a drag club in Asakusabashi and has become a symbol of the festival. The oldest of the three portable shrines, the Kanamara Omikoshi, is made of wood.

During the festival, there is plenty of themed merchandise available for purchase. Visitors can find phallic candles in assorted colors, phallic candies, funky hand towels, and a variety of toys, knickknacks, and accessories. There are even food items in the shape of phalluses, such as carved daikon radishes. These souvenirs not only make great icebreakers but also serve as unique reminders of the festival.

While the Kanamara Matsuri may seem unusual and a step apart from ordinary life in Japan, it is important to remember that the festival still upholds the law. Although there are rarely any problems, security guards are present to deal with any instances of lewdness, harassment, or other serious issues. It is crucial to respect the sacred side of the festival and remember that it is not just about fun and entertainment. While in the neighborhood, visitors can also take the opportunity to visit the nearby Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple, known for its expansive precincts.

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In conclusion, the Kawasaki Kanamara Festival is a unique and fascinating event that celebrates fertility and raises awareness about sexual health. With its historical background and modern-day spectacle, it attracts both locals and international travelers who are curious to experience Japan’s quirkier side. The festival’s focus on phallus-shaped portable shrines, phallus-themed merchandise, and food adds an element of fun and amusement to the event. However, it is important to remember the festival’s sacred side and respect the law while participating in the festivities. Overall, the Kawasaki Kanamara Festival is a celebration of life, renewal, and the power of community coming together.

Address And Maps Location:

2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken


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