2006-10-08

It's very hard to make a pun about this post.

The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭), also called Festival of the Steel Phallus, is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan on the first Sunday in spring. The penis forms the central theme of the event that's reflected everywhere; in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, portable shrines (御輿/mikoshi), etc.



The festival dates back to the Edo period(1603-1867) and is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine, once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Today, the festival is used to raise money for HIV research.

There's also a legend of a demon that hid inside a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights before a blacksmith fashioned an iron phallus that was used to break the demon's teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.

At some point during the festival the mikoshi (portable shrines)are picked up by a bunch of people and carried down the street through the center of down while dancing and shaking the mikoshi fairly vigorously. Interestingly, the pink mikoshi at this festival is carried by a group of drag queens. (see video)





I read about this festival about a year ago and I know I'm posting this in the Autumn and not in the Spring, but I may forget about it next April. I have a couple of friends in Kawasaki, I wonder if they've ever gone to this? It bears checking out. Besides, I want to take my own photos, not scam them off the net!

1 comment:

ELEANOR BOYCE said...

thank you for sharing.. I've never seen such festival :)

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