Phallic veneration at Kanamara Matsuri, penis festival in Kawasaki, Japan

Kanamara Matsuri is a yearly festival in Kawasaki, Japan, where throngs of onlookers gather to cheer on a parade of giant phalluses.

Legend has it that in the olden days, a sharp-toothed demon hid inside a Kawasaki girl’s vagina, and a local blacksmith built an iron penis to break its teeth and free the young woman. The penis resides in the local temple most of the time, but one day a year, it is taken out and paraded around the town, its carriers shouting “deka mara!” (big penis).

kanamara festival penis japan kawasaki

kanamara festival penis japan kawasaki

Shops line the streets of Kawasaki, selling the typical festival assortment of mochi, chicken skewers, and beer, but the souvenirs in everyone’s mouths were these penis-shaped lollipops.

kanamara festival penis japan kawasaki

The Kanamara Matsuri only happens on the first Sunday of every April, but Flickr has a great collection of photos from the event, and if you’d like to see the object of veneration, you can find it year-round at Kanayama Shrine.

Many of its visitors are gawking tourists, but natives also visit the shrine to pray for fertility, good luck in bed, and protection from STDs.

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