The Japanese penis festival: Celebrating phalluses every year

penis festival
Fancy a visit? [Photo: Instagram/dj_ank77]

If talking about sex in public makes you go red, you might want to look away.

Over in Japan, far from being a taboo topic, penises are celebrated during an annual event – giving the genital organ the honour it deserves.

The ‘Shinto Kanamara Matsuri’, or Festival of the Steel Phallus, isn’t unlike your average street celebration – only instead of floats you’d typically expect at a parade, they’re giant pink penises being walked past instead.

Along with people sucking on penis-shaped lollipops, penis-themed songs being played, and genitalia-carving competitions taking place.

Each spring – usually the first Sunday of April – in Kawasaki, Japan, festivities centre around the Kanayama Shrine, a small place of worship enshrining the legendary Emperor Nintoku.

Apparently, the stories said to influence the day’s introduction vary – but one is that of a woman who had a demon living in her vagina which bit the penises off two of her newlywed husbands (ever seen the film Teeth?)

To beat the demon, she eventually called upon help from a blacksmith, who made a steel penis. The demon bit down on it and broke its teeth, defeated.

And historically, Kawasaki also used to be a stop-off point for travellers, and the shrine is said to have been visited by prostitutes praying for protection from venereal diseases.

Either way, we’re talking about a pretty sex-positive shrine here.

Kanamara Matsuri ???? #penisfestival #japan

A post shared by MC (@miha_kavcic) on Apr 5, 2016 at 6:59am PDT

And right up until the present day, this and the festival are strongly connected to promoting fertility, health and happiness.

In practical ways as well as simply hosting a big party in celebration of it all, too; the shrine donates proceeds collected at the festival to HIV/AIDs research.

It’s also an important chance for members of the LBGTQ community to show their pride publicly in an otherwise conservative Japan; as a visitor to the festival on blog site Tofugu noted, one year the most iconic statue carried around – a big pink penis called Elizabeth – was donated by a drag queen club and carried by transgender people.

So it’s more than just a load of penis-themed things flying around (though admittedly, that’s a pretty big part of it).

What do you think about Japan’s annual penis festival? Tweet us at @YahooStyleUK.

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