Unique Japanese Festivals: A visit to the Kanamaru Matsuri Penis Festival - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Unique Japanese Festivals: A visit to the Kanamaru Matsuri Penis Festival

Japan is a country where anything seemingly is possible, and if you like the slightly weird combination of public festivities and giant phalluses then the Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り / Festival of the Steel Phallus) in Kawasaki should probably be on the top of your list of things to see in Japan. This festival is celebrated annually around the first Sunday of April, and people come to the shrine for a variety of purposes such as praying for an easy delivery, protection from sexually transmitted diseases, general prosperity and harmony in marriage. In recent years the festival has particularly become a popular event among foreign visitors, and on this day people from all corners of the world flock to the area to see the unique sight of the pink and black phalluses being carried around the streets in Kawasaki Daishi.

It is not every day one gets to see people walking around carrying gigantic phallus mikoshis, and as foreigners we were quite interested in what kind of spectacle this would be. We gathered with a group of friends at the Kawasaki Daishi station (川崎大師駅) early in the morning to ensure a good view of the parade that was going to take place there. The station was completely packed with people heading toward the shrine, with more than half of the visitors probably being foreigners.

Yes, that's exactly what it is..
The festival was concentrated around the Kawasaki Daishi Heiken-ji temple (川崎大師平間寺, or Kawasaki Daishi for short), and the Kanayama Shrine (金山神社). The temple and the shrine are located about 6 minutes apart from each other by foot, and for both places you can find festival-related things going on. After having seen a procession taking place right outside the Kawasaki Daishi station (pictures above) we walked directly to the Kawasaki Daishi temple, and it was pretty easy to find as one could basically just follow the trail of people in order to get there.
The Nakamise Doori (仲見世通) pathway leading up to the temple
Along the way you could find small stands where they were selling typical festival food such as takoyaki and other snack. After having passed through the gateway to the Nakamise Doori (仲見世通り) pathway leading to the temple there were a number of small stores selling everything from regular food to lollipops shaped like female and male genitals..

Some people had particularly dressed up for the occasion. We even got to take photos of this one guy who was dressed up like.. A deer perhaps?

But besides all the rather weird stuff going on at the temple it was actually quite a nice chance to enjoy the cherry blossom.! Here are some more or less normal pictures from the temple area:
Temple and.. candy..

After having spent some time at the Kawasaki Daishi we followed a phallus procession back to the  Kanayama Shrine. People basically went crazy at the sight, taking what seemed like hundreds of photos and selfies.

At the end of the procession you can see the highlight of the festival, as the giant pink phallus mikoshi is carried into a small shed. 

 This part of the event took place at the Kanayama Shrine. We didn't spend too much time there as the line to get into the shrine was insane, but here are some pictures from the entrance area which clearly show what this festival is all about..

This is without doubt the weirdest Japanese festival I’ve been to so far, and absolutely a memory that will stick with me for a long time. Although the festival is getting quite touristy it is still well worth a visit for those of you who are in the vicinity and want to enjoy the sight of the pretty pink sakura (cherry blossoms) alongside with giant pink phalluses. Enjoy!

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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