Japan Prepares For Annual Penis Festival That’s Like ‘Mardi Gras With Dongs’

It's the little things that count.

Japan Prepares For Annual Penis Festival That’s Like ‘Mardi Gras With Dongs’

Image: Gaijin Pot Travel

Japan is gearing up for one of its most popular if surprising public festivals that pays homage to one very special body part…

Japan has always been known and admired for its more eccentric elements. Just take the inhabitants of this active volcano or their tongue-in-cheek approach to Vegans travelling in business class as prime examples. However, it’s also revered as a nation of modesty and restraint, so you may be surprised to hear about the excitement surrounding one of its stranger festivals…

Every spring, the picturesque city of Kawasaki, Japan, draws thousands of tourists for a wholly unique celebration of one very special thing: the penis. Known as Kanamara Matsuri or the ‘Steel Penis Festival’, this annual event held on the first Sunday of April is anything but discreet.

As reported by Euronews, it’s a raucous, colourful spectacle that may remind you of Mardi Gras with a very phallic twist, and preparations for 2024’s party are well underway…

WATCH: Another strange Japanese tale as told by Joe Rogan…

A Festival Like No Other

While Japan is often associated with decorum and discretion, especially in regard to sexuality, Kanamara Matsuri seemingly throws all conventions aside. At the heart of the festival is the Mikoshi parade, featuring three large erect yet impressively mobile shrines that are carried through the streets on large floats:

  1. The Black Iron Phallus: One of the shrines resembles a black iron phallus.
  2. The Wooden Willy: Another shrine is a wooden representation.
  3. The Pink Prick: The third shrine, you guessed it, is pink.

But why all this penile passion, you ask? It all goes back to an ancient legend: the story claims that a young woman once fell victim to a jealous demon’s curse. This sharp-toothed demon chose an unusual hiding spot — inside her vagina. When she next tried to have sex with her husband, the demon bit off his penis… ouch.

Image: Guilhem Vellut

The desperate woman sought help from a blacksmith who crafted a metal phallus to outsmart the demon. Next time she found a moment in private to put her new tool to the test, the demon attempted to bite down on the steel schlong only to find its teeth shattered, forcing it to abandon the woman’s body. From thereon out, she lived happily ever after with her miraculously healed husband…

A Festival with Fuzzy Details

While the details of the story may require a significant stretch of imagination, what’s clear is that the festival commemorates this legend and does so with unabashed enthusiasm. The Kanayami Shrine, where the steel phallus resides, has become a focal point for couples praying for fertility and good fortune in their marriage. Even sex workers visit the shrine to pray for protection and to ward off STDs.

Image: AFP

The festival itself kicked off way back in 1969, but gained significant popularity in 2012 when TV star Matsuko Deluxe — an advocate of sex positivity and LGBTQ rights — used their platform to promote the festival to a wider public. Today, roughly 50,000 attendees gather each year and the festival has become an important platform for LGBTQ groups in Japan.

To further prove that it’s not all just lurid fun and games, the penile paraphernalia sold during the festival — including male genitalia lollipops — have all their profits donated to HIV research. Clearly, this is a celebration that stands erect in the face of convention but nevertheless has found a way to leave a lasting, meaningful, albeit slightly cheeky impact.