Kanamara Penis festival

166 images Created 7 Apr 2011

The Kanamara, iron Phallus matsuri has it roots in an Edo era legend about a penis eating demon that was tricked by a local monk into biting down on a steel phallus, The shrine has a long history of metal working: swords used to be made there and there is still a foundry in the grounds which is lit with sacred fire on the morning of the festival. It was also popular with the local prostitutes in the past and it is, more believably, supposed the festival grew from the hanami or cherry blossom viewing parties they had when they came to the shrine to pray for good business and protection from syphillis. Today the shrine caters more to the spiritual needs of those that need help with fertility, childbirth and sexual potency though the festival stalls, that sell everything from kamasutra tea-towels to genital shaped candy, do raise money for HIV and Aids research.
About 11am the original steel phallus is attached to a mikoshi or portable shrine and blessed by priests and priestesses from the shrine. After the ceremony the mikoshi is carried through the crowds to make a grand tour of the town. It is joined by two other mikoshi, one carrying a large, black steel phallus and the other, perhaps the festival`s most famous sight, a large pink polystyrene penis that is carried by a group of exuberant transvestites.
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