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The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri or “Festival of the Steel Phallus” the first Sunday in April each year. This year, I timed my precisely to visit this wonder of a parade in weird Japan.
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. 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. There is also a legend of a sharp-toothed demon (vagina dentata) that 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.
Today, the festival has become something of a tourist attraction and is used to raise money for HIV research.
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Just an hour from central Tokyo, I was greeted by torrential rain upon arriving to Kawasaki Dashi station. My friend told me that this was the station most Tokyolites go for their yearly visit to the shrines during new year. We immediately dashed into the nearest convenience store and bought the last two umbrellas available at an obscene price, all the while worried that the parade would not be held altogether. Following my crowd of “baka” gaijins and people sucking on dick-shaped lollipops, my fears were assured by a glorious pink dick erected in the middle of the road.
There were three mikoshi (portable shrines) being carried at a single time. The giant pink dick, carried exclusively by okamas (effeminate gay men) is the one you should be following. Good luck trying though. You'll be massively hinders by plenty of gaijins with their DSLRs trying to cop a shot. This festival is as touristy as it can get. My Japanese friend who came along haven't even heard of this.
You'll basically follow these mikoshis till you reach Kanayama Shrine, where it will end. That is also where you can indulge in penis-shaped candies, worship phalluses and take photos of baka gaijins dressed literally as dick-heads or cock-faces. I would recommend going for this at least once, just to see how weird Japanese can get.
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