Kanamara Matsuri: Steel Penis Getting Bigger and Bigger in Japan

japan-steel-penis-festivalThe Japanese spring festival of Kanamara Matsuri which takes place the first Sunday of April at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki is getting bigger and bigger by the year. The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri or Festival of the Steel Penis was started in 1977 and used to small but has been gaining in popularity year by year.

It is very interesting seeing all kinds of people, men and women, get together and celebrating the penis. And the best part? It looks like a ton of fun and is for a good cause.  In recent years it has been used to raise money for HIV research. Fitting. Needless to say, it is quite the spectacle and like nothing you will see anywhere else on earth, so it comes as no surprise that it has become quite the tourist attraction.

The legend being that a sharp-toothed demon (vagina dentata) hid inside the vagina of a young woman and castrated two young men on their wedding nights. As a result, the young woman sought help from a blacksmith, who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth, which led to the enshrinement of the item. This legend in Ainu language was published as “The Island of Women” by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

The Kanayama Shrine was popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection from sexually transmitted infections.

It is also said the shrine offers divine protections for business prosperity, and for the clan’s prosperity; and for easy delivery, marriage, and married-couple harmony.

Sounds far fetched but people seem to really play along and have a good time so we are all for it. This years event was on April 5th and by all reports was a great success. All signs point to the Steel Penis Festival getting even bigger next year, if you plan to be in Japan on April 3rd, 2016 it definitely looks like it is worth checking out.