Japan is known for a lot of things– good food, great electronics, reliable autos, wonderful scenery, and complex traditions and a rich history that are weaved into its culture. Part of that tradition are the festivals, called “matsuri (祭)” that take placc around the local shrines and temples all over Japan. It was once told to me by a Shinto priest, “Oh, there’s probably a matsuri for anything and everything if you look hard enough.” So it should come as no surprise that there are fertility festivals…and specifically one that pays homage to the almighty “man-sword”.
There are plenty of “Phallus Festivals” in Japan; the main one being Hōnen Matsuri in Nagoya’s Tagata Shrine every March 15. Not to be outdone though, is Kanamara Matsuri: Festival of the Steel Phallus at Kawasaki’s Kanayama Jinja (金山神社). Kawasaki sits smack in between Tokyo and Yokohama, so it’s pretty much a guarantee there will be thousands of people coming from all over the metropolis to check it out.
According to Wikipedia, The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection from sexually transmitted diseases. This is because back during the Edo period (1600-1868), Kawasaki was the last stop on the Tokaido road into western Japan, and like any rest stop in those days, had its share of “recreational facilites” such as brothels. It is said that there are also divine protections for business prosperity and for the clan’s prosperity; and for easy delivery, marriage, and married-couple harmony.
These days, the festival is used to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases and as a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS research.
Every year, first Sunday of April (6 March 2013)
Train: from Keikyu Daishi line, KawasakiDaishi Station (KK23), 1 minute walk to the shrine.
Map: (mobile phone friendly) http://goo.gl/maps/FZ6oj