The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The phallus, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.
Kanamara Masuri, which takes place every year in April in Kawasaki, is a Japanese spring festival held as a prayer for fertility, smooth marital relationships, and business prosperity.
Kanamara Matsuri is a sacred festival held at Kanayama Shrine, which is located within the grounds of Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Kawasaki.
The festival is dedicated to Kanayama Hiko no Kami and Kanayama Hime no Kami, a divine couple celebrated as the protectors of blacksmiths and of s3xuality. That is why the main festival of this shrine is held as a prayer for the blessing of children and smooth marital relationships.
However, not only married couples praying for children can take part in the festival. Every year, more than 30.000 people with various backgrounds, nationalities, and s3xual identities take part in this event.
The reason why this festival reached this scale has to do with its historical background.
In those days, Kawasaki used to be a lodging area along the Tokaido, the main road connecting the eastern capital of Edo to Kyoto. It is said that the women who worked at the inns as maids and prostitutes used to come to Kanayama Shrine to pray to be protected from diseases and misfortune.
Even in modern times, people suffering from s3xually transmitted diseases kept coming during the night to the shrine to pray.
The legend surrounding the festival is that a jealous sharp-toothed demon hid inside the v@gina of a young woman whom the demon fell in love with and bit off the pen!ses of two young men on their wedding nights.
After that, the 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 festival started in 1969. Today, the festival has become something of a tourist attraction and is used to raise money for HIV research
On the day of the festival, the participants can visit the shrine and the exhibition hall within the shrine grounds, or buy p3nis-shaped souvenirs and sweets from the numerous food stalls.
The highlight of the festival is the parade that starts at 12 o’clock at noon. It features three portable shrines (mikoshi) that carry phallus-shaped sacred objects.
The one that opens the procession is the Kanamara Funamikoshi – a boat-shaped roofed portable shrine on which a large black iron phallus is carried.
Next, up in the procession is the Elizabeth Mikoshi carrying a large pink phallus on an open portable shrine. This mikoshi has been donated by Elizabeth Kaikan, a drag club in Tokyo, and in the beginning only club members used to carry it during the parade.
Nowadays, it is carried by the members of a local mikoshi association. However, there is the rule that men carriers should dress up like women and women carriers should dress up like men.
Kanamara Omikoshi, a large square roofed mikoshi housing a central wooden phallus, is the last portable shrine in the procession and also the oldest of the three mikoshis.
The parade is really exciting and because it is held in a residential area, the streets tend to become crowded.
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