Don’t call it a penis festival… then again...
In spite of all its rules and propriety, Japan still has its quirky bits. If you’re into that kind of stuff, head to the Dontsuku Festival, a celebration of fertility that’s sure to be a less crowded alternative to the famous “penis festival” held in Kawasaki.
Every year, at the beginning of June, the Dontsuku Shrine in Higashi Izu, Shizuoka, hosts a fertility festival in the onsen (hot spring) town of Inatori. Although the festival dates back more than 2,000 years, its current interpretation only began in 1966.
One local used to … hit residents with a penis-shaped stick to bless them with children and to prevent them from getting ill.
Traditionally, one local used to dress like a tengu (Japanese folklore character with a long nose) and hit residents with a penis-shaped stick to bless them with children and to prevent them from getting ill. Today, the summer festival is celebrated on a larger scale to grant married couples quarrel-free relationships and healthy baby deliveries.
What other fests are nearby?
If you’re feeling particularly frisky, you can even straddle the wooden goshintai while it’s carried on the shoulders of the locals.
Things to do at Dontsuku Festival
The festival also includes the parade of Tengu floats, taiko drumming performances, dancing and shamisen-playing geisha, and mochi maki. Mochi maki, also called mochinage, is a traditional Japanese custom where the festival organizers throw rice cakes and other packaged food into the air so that crowd goers can catch them.
During the festival, grab some festival food favorites like takoyaki (octopus fritters), yakisoba (fried soba noodles), or something a little different: mochi dumplings and other sweet treats shaped like the male sex organ.
Dontsuku Festival concludes with the launching of 1,000 fireworks at the waterfront. Since the festival ends at night, it’s a good idea to overnight at a local hotel or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and soak in one of the spa town’s famous onsens before you’re onto your next adventure.