The Kanamara Matsuri of Kawasaki, Japan is a cocky little festival where the floats would make a sailor blush. It's a balls-to-the-wall festival where zaniness reigns supreme with giant penis floats, unconvincing drag queens, people sucking on penis lollipops, and dick-themed hats and costumes.
The origins of the festival go back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). Supposedly there lived a girl who had a demon take up residence in a certain part of female anatomy. When she was married her husband found out about her hidden inhabitant to his horror. In the process of consummating the marriage, the husband was castrated when the devil bit off the poor fellow's member. A second husband also suffered the same fate (presumably no one told him about the first husband).
A local blacksmith forged an iron phallus and when this was put in the proper (or improper) place, the devil broke its teeth on it and thus fled. The devil-quelling device was enshrined and in later times ladies of the evening came to the shrine to pray for success in their business and to avoid the typical pitfalls of their profession namely STDs. Today the festival raises funds for AIDS research and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The Kanamara Matsuri takes place the first Sunday in April in Kawasaki-Daishi. The parade begins around 12 going around the small town and coming back to the shrine around 1:30. There are three floats or mikoshi (portable shrine). One is the principle object of veneration, the iron phallus which defeated the devil. The other two attract the most attention, camera shots, laughter, and gasps. One is a large black metal phallus complete with metal balls housed in a small shrine building which is carried by locals. The other could arguably be called the belle of the ball, the cock of the walk, the pink warrior of Tadgerton - it's an enormous graphically-represented pink penis that stands straight up at attention and it is carried aloft by some very unconvincing drag queens.
It's a surreal experience that is worth checking out though it's very crowded and if you have a hankering for penis and vagina lollipops get in line - a long line.
The Kanamara Matsuri - Festival of the Iron Phallus
Japanese girls enjoying penis lollipops
Long-nose Tengu leads the parade
The festival attracts a lot of people
A couple of dickheads
Cyber Vampire Penis Worshippers?
Japanese Elvis enjoys the Penis Festival
Some interesting (and graphic) ema prayer boards at the shrine
Oh, Japanese girls!