No, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke – there is actually a penis festival going on in Japan today. Yep, you read that right – a festival dedicated to penises is currently taking place in Kawasaki right now.
Tens of thousands flock to Shinto Kanamara Matsuri each year as giant phalluses – some as big as fully grown men – parade through the streets in tribute to the penis. Also known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus – or Willy Festival – the annual celebration is held on the first Sunday of April at the Kanayama Shrine. Penis-shaped floats are held aloft during the sreet parades while both the young and old enjoy phallus-themed candy, chocolate and lollipops and pose with penis-shaped sculptures.
A woman kisses a phallus-shaped lollipop during the Kanamara Matsuri (Picture: EPA/Christopher Jue)
A visitor wearing a phallus hat and nose poses for a photograph (Picture: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock)
A man wears a phallus-shaped mask (Picture: EPA/Christopher Jue)
A large pink phallic-shaped ‘Mikoshi’ is paraded through the streets (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)
Visitors also don penis beaks, carry giant penis purses and some even straddle a giant wooden phallus. The festival celebrates fertility and also raises awareness about safe sex practices and funds for HIV charities.
It focuses around a penis-shaped shrine that prostitutes used to pray under to ask for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
A huge iron dildo that sits in the Kanayama shrine is also a big part of the festival. Legend has it that in the Edo Period (1603-1868) a sharp-toothed demon who live inside a woman’s vagina castrated several men on their wedding nights.
Women react to the camera as they eat phallic-shaped lollipops (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)
A man wears a phallic-shaped hat during Kanamara Matsuri (Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images)
A visitor wearing a phallus hat poses for a photograph (Picture: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock)
Participants carry a portable shrine with a large phallus through the street (Picture: EPA/Christopher Jue)
But a quick-thinking local blacksmith came to the rescue and forged a massive iron dildo to break the demon’s teeth. And in honour of the Shinto deities of fertiliy, childbirth and protection, a three-foot steel phallus now sits in the shrine’s courtyard. Sex workers used to go the shrine to pray they would be protected from sexually transmitted diseases.