Penises of all colors and sizes take over Kawasaki city during the Kanamara Matsuri—aka the Penis Festival. You’ll find everything from penis-shaped lollipops to earrings and even some vagina-shaped treats.
Photo by: Randiah Camille Green
Around 30,000 people flock to the event in the otherwise quiet town in Kanagawa Prefecture, about 45 minutes south of Tokyo.
The rowdy celebration of all things phallic happens annually on the first Sunday of April. Expect lots of drunk people in penis hats.
The backstory of Kanayama Shrine, where the festival takes place, sounds a lot like a horror movie plot. The legend goes that a jealous demon fell in love with a married woman and burrowed itself inside her vagina.
After the demon bit off the penis of the woman’s husband, she asked a blacksmith to build a steel phallus to break its teeth. Yikes.
The phallus was enshrined here along with the Shinto gods of mining and blacksmithing. It later became a popular place for sex workers to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
The shrine itself is tiny so during the festival make sure to get there before 9 a.m. to avoid a long line wrapped around the block.
Kawasaki Daishi and shopping street
If the line to enter Kanayama Shrine is too long, you can still enjoy the festivities from nearby at Kawasaki Daishi. The huge shrine grounds and its adjacent shopping street are lined with penis goods—this is where you’ll find those penis lollipops you see everyone walking around with.
Here you can enjoy a variety of food stalls, performances, and general festival atmosphere. It’s impossible to have a bad time when you’re surrounded by hundreds of people wearing penis hats and glasses.
Typically the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade starts around 11:30 a.m. The procession is made up of three different shrines, including a pink one carried by members of the trans community called Elizabeth.
The mikoshi are left on display for plenty of photo opportunities before and after the procession.
While it’s easy to just write this off as some strange sausage festival, let’s not forget that it is a historical tradition in which people come to pray for fertility and safe childbirth. The festival has also become a pride celebration for the trans community. Funds raised during the event are donated to HIV and AIDs research.
Still, whether your reason for joining this raucous party is for fertility prayers or just for laughs, nobody will judge you for buying those penis candles, right?