On the first Sunday of every April, the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan, celebrates Kanamara Matsuri, which translates, literally, to “Festival of the Steel Phallus.”
Yep, today I’m talking about dicks.
Before we get in too deep (there will be oodles of these puns, you have been warned), here’s a short (but adequate) history: in Shinto lore, there was a demon who fell in love with a woman. The woman, unfortunately for the demon, didn’t want any of that demonic D. She found another, less fire-and-brimstone boyfriend, and they were to be married. Unbeknownst to her, however, the demon possessed her vagina. On the star-crossed lovers’ wedding night, when they were to consummate their love, well…
Her unfortunate husband unfit to satisfy her adult needs, she finds a new, still-equipped lover. He, too, was a groom-to-be, and, again, the demon was full friend-zone stalker and…
The woman, understandably frustrated by being cockatrice-blocked twice, goes to the local blacksmith and asks him to forge her what can be most succinctly described as an iron dildo. She uses her new tool and, for a third time, the demon gets a mouthful of manhood and bites. But this time, the demon breaks his teeth. He flies out of the woman, who is now free to marry without fear of becoming a cat lady.
So now, come spring, we get the colloquially named Penis Festival.
To Westerners, the Penis Festival is bizarre. To prove my point, I’m going to insert a huge load of pictures before I plunge into pure text.
Japan is an interesting country where their traditions often come together with modern society. Back in the day, this shrine was popular with prostitutes who would pray to the spirit to ward off STDs (or cure them of those they already had).
The Japanese were very open with their sexuality until about September 2, 1945 when they surrendered to the United States. And we cocksure Americans rubbed our prudish ways all over our vanquished foes (who are now are friends) and implemented all sorts of censorship.
The Penis Festival avoided all this censorship, probably because it is part of Japanese heritage. And people there were not shy. There was an enormous mob of people shoving and thrusting and forcing their way in toward the right spot where the penis pops were sold. Not the best place for anything intimate. Those penis pops were huge…ly popular with both foreigners and locals alike, and people were enjoying them openly.
In fact, the first sign I had that I was near the shrine was when I saw a very little girl with a pink lollipop. That might be the most shocking thing to outsiders: whole families were in attendance. Lots of mothers and fathers carting their daughters and sons, from infancy to probably middle school ages, around the festival grounds. That blue building you can see in the background of the above picture was a preschool.
In spite of America’s attempt to quell Japan’s openness to the human body, that tradition still remains firm (though it should probably see a doctor after four hours).
And who are we, as baka gaijin (idiot foreigners), to judge? Thrust out your prejudices, open yourself up to try something new (but don’t be scared if it’s your first time), and grab a penis pop. You’ll grow into a better person.