In Japan, spring is an important time of year. The cherry blossoms are blooming, the cold weather is slowly giving way toward warmer temps, AND it’s time for certain shrines to dust off their penises. YES, I meant what I wrote.
Last year, I had a very traditional introduction to the Fertility Festival custom in Nagano, Japan. There I learned that despite what it looks like, the scandalous event is meant to strengthen matrimonies and relationships, as well as help couples seeking to get pregnant.
The enormous phalluses carried around at the fest, however, are what bring it much attention. These are meant to mimic the penetration of the temple which then leads to an abundance of harvest, hardy har-har.
This weekend, I headed south of Tokyo to Kawasaki for another fertility festival. The Kanamara Festival is a bit raunchier. The central phallus is made of iron said to represent one a local blacksmith made to help cure a woman who had a demon in her vagina which had previously castrated two men. Read more about about the legend here and here.
It is also said that later the festival transformed into an event where local sex workers asked for good health to include remaining STD-free.
The differences between last year’s and this festival were pretty obvious to me. Nagano’s was really traditional, while this one seemed really gimmicky with the hot pink penis and handful of cross dressers in attendance.
Another difference were the number of foreigners there to enjoy the festival. Kawasaki is definitely easier to access from Tokyo than the one in Nagano, but it seemed really marketed to foreigners, made especially obvious when the procession was translated to English over the loudspeaker.
The one in Kawasaki had more people, but less food and souvenir vendors. The one in Nagano had free sake for everyone during the parade route, unlike Kawasaki.
Both festivals were fun and interesting in their own ways, but last year’s felt more authentic and true to the spiritual significance of hosting a fertility celebration. The focus in Nagano was really about fertility and less about gawdy penises.
According to a few news sites and blogs, the Kawasaki festival proceeds go towards HIV/AIDS research. So, sure it may be a little too touristy but the money goes to an important cause.
I am unaware of any other fertility festivals in the area, so I’m assuming this resumes my two-year tour of dicking around (lulz) at these things.
Hope you enjoy the video [above] and photos [below]!