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Kanamara Matsuri

My classmates and I recently made it to the Kanamara Festival in Kawasaki Japan. The picture above should give you some idea of what it’s about.


It’s held at the Wakiyama Hachiman-gu Shrine close to the Kawasaki Daishi station. I had directions on how to get there and I had called the shrine to find out when the festival was and they also gave me some directions. They basically said to come to the station, exit and you’ll see it across from the station.

Well, we got there, I didn’t see anything that looked like a temple once we got outside the station but we did see a huge facade over one street that said Daishi Temple so we went that way. That street was all souvenir shops and so it seemed like maybe we were going the right way. After a few blocks it made a u-turn and was clearly approaching a huge temple.

Just as we got to the temple though my friend Atsuko called. She lives very close to that area and was going to meet us there. When I told her where we were she said we had goofed up and to come back to the station.

It turns out Daishi is an enormous temple in Kawasaki but it is not the shrine we were looking for.

The one we were looking for was actually practically directly across from the station but it was very small and the shrine itself was blocked by another building so it was not obvious where it was.

There were 3 main mikoshi which I guess would best be described as portable shrines.&nbsp. There was the pink one (top). The black one (to the right) and the tree one (left). I have no idea what if any differences in meaning there are for the 3 mikoshi.

Every festival has it’s drummers. Click here to here them play.

According to my friend Atsuko and also a little flyer she found, originally the shrine was to honor the gods of iron.


There was a iron working building and they were making swords. But, the history of the area is also that it used to be an area with lots of brothels and the workers used the temple to pray not to get syphilis and from that this festival started.


It is now considered good luck, good family etc to embrace one of the big phalluses or to ride the wooden phallus shaped see-saw.

At some point during the festival the mikoshi are picked up by a bunch of people and carried down the street through the center of down while dancing and shaking the mikoshi fairly vigorously. Interestingly, the pink mikoshi at this festival is carried by a group of drag queens.

Just as they picked up the last mikoshi to carry it down the street they did some crazy shaking. Click here to see a video of it. It actually looks kind of dangerous to carry these things. They are carried by like 20 to 30 people each and they shake them all over and march down the street. People do help guide but it’s clearly hard to control 30 people like that. I saw a few people get hurt. Probably got their leg stepped on.
Most of them are wearing these cool looking but not very supportive boot things.

There are also all the candies as you can see below. It is especially interesting to walk around the festival and see people eating them all. Of course I picked a bunch up and handed them out to friends and teachers the next day.

 

The first package on the left is individually wrapped crackers. If you look closely each package has a picture or actually a card with a picture on it inside.

The pictures look like the ones to the left here. Click here if you want to see all of them. We all speculated if there was any purpose to them other than instruction. For example cut them out, put them in a hat and pick one at random. Or place one on your lover’s pillow before bed etc. We tried to get one of our married classmates to give it a try with her husband but we couldn’t get her to give it a try. Too bad.

  • greggman
    Another Kanamara Article

    If you’re interested here’s another article on the Kanamara Festival.

  • anon_ultragaijin
    Well, that’s almost as big as mine…

    Don’t get me started. Nice article, I haven’t seen such in-depth reporting on the subject before. It must be very close to your heart.

    Stop by F*cked Gaijin sometime!

  • anon_ultragaijin
    That’s good too

    As far as I’m concerned, you can never get enough big, giant c*cks.

  • anon_yougayfucks
    Um…

    OMG YOU SICK JAPANESE FUCKS! Giant pink cocks and men/women hugging small black dick statues? i am proud to be a fucking AMERICAN.

  • anon_Kenshin4LIFE
    hahahahahha

    DooooooD.. That is some Funny as shit!!!! You japanese people are freaking CRAZY!!!!!… Hahahah.. Hugging Giant Cocks??? What the heck.. hahahaha

  • anon_DaHauk
    Um…

    OMG You wonderful Japanese folks! Gaint pink cocks and men/women hugging small black dick statues? I wanna move THERE!

  • greggman
    not normal

    Although attitudes in Japan are a little different about these topics the festival above is not well known.  If fact the majority of my Japanese friends had never heard of it though they were not surprised to hear that somewhere in Japan there is such a festival.

    This temple is pretty small, slightly out of the way, and about half the attendees were foreign.

  • anon_etoile
    awesome!

    Thanks for putting up the pictures and information.  I read about the festival in my Frommer’s guide.  I hope I will be able to get everything planned in time to be there for this!

  • anon_AnnieExpat
    Imitation

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery…this link has some of this article in it: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~j0wong/kanamara.htm

  • anon_Dav
    Candies

    Please please please tell me that when the candies are unwrapped they’re shaped like little penises.

  • anon_AnnieExpat
    Kanamara 2003

    It’s on April 6th this year.  I’m going to try to get there for the first time!

  • anon_sadox
    Ma su sballati sti giappunisi…!!

    Ma vi rendete conto un festival del pene!!! Ma siete completamente fuori di testa oppure avete una sola cosa in testa?? Sesso sesso e sesso!! Ahahahhh

  • http://www.fuckyou.com worldssmartestretard

    Typical sex-crazed Japanese.

    Stuff like this should help people understand the comfort women of WW2, the Rape of Nanjing and similar atrocities.

    Sick, sick, sick.

  • anon_TaiwanWei
    God, people…

    Grow up (to those anti-kanamara comments)!  Sure the festival is a little quirky even to other East Asians, much less Westerners, but it’s a lot of fun!  My boyfriend couldn’t believe the pictures I showed him on my return to Taipei (from a study in Japan), and we both agreed that Taiwan would be SO much more fun if we had things like this in our traditional festivals.  It’s about raising up something that’s so controversial and taboo and having fun with it, and that is all…to compare such a festival’s origin with the reasons behind the Rape of Nanjing, comfort women, etc., shows only a lack of cultural relativity or any kind of historical understanding for that period of history.

    Plus, when I was there, the vast majority of people seem to be Japanese.  Sure the foreigners find it fun, but it’s definately for the natives, too…

  • GPM
    molto bene

    di queste feste dovrebbero organizzarne 1 almeno in ogni nazione senza pudore Bene cari amici giapponesi la festa del C. o del pene ! dA APPREZZARE GPM ITALY TO

  • NotanAmerican
    Ignorant

    The Kanamara festival is not about sex. It was origionally celebrated to ward of STD’s like syphylis.  Heaven forbid other cultures celebrate according to their religious and cultural beliefs.  Damn Yanks and their paradigms of ignorance.

  • http://blog.greggman.com greggman
    learn to read

    Maybe if you learned to read you’d see i mentioned that exact origin in the article above.

  • shiruka
    Sick

    I am Japanese,and I didn’t know this kind of festival exists until now.There are billions of festival in Japan,and there is even festival of needle,paper,or cat.

    It is so sick that foreigner like to pick this minor festival.(this article is not biased but people comments on it is) You people seems to love it, because 99% of Japanese doesn’t know about this one and you people seems to know more!

    And people like Chinese&Korean uses it to bash Japan like they always do.There is festival to love Chinese or Korean’s too.Would you like to use it for bashing too?

  • john
    cock party

    Hey guys – there ain’t nothing wrong with this kind of festival.  We in the West lack the maturity to hold a festival honoring our third leg.  Infact, we should have a festival for all our favourite body parts.  Perhaps we should combine the ass and dick festival.  We need festivals! 

  • Virpi
    Ignorance – continue making me laugh:)

    For the American comments..please spare us..we all know how “moral” Americans are..that’s why they always involved in selling girls where ever they go for peace missions..not to mention rapes in Okinawa,Korea,etc..so don’t talk about the Japanese:) At least the perceive sex as something normal, and not getting brain damage from seeing a bit of Janet Jackson’s tit:)

    Now I’m not suprised anymore when I read how Americans thing our (Finnish) sauna is a sex thing haha even though it has nothing to do with it..soooo ignorant:)

    Oh,and btw,as for WW2..you think Americans were all innocent and didn’t rape anybody? don’t make me laugh..remaind me how Americans didn’t rape anybody in Vietnam..and all this with all your “moral” attitudes:) God bless the ignorant Americans..just continue to be so..at least the rest of us gets a good laugh:)

    Well, John..we in Northern Europe are perfectly fine with our body parts..in fact, our children see naked people from the age of 0 and grow up into normal, healthy individuals..one of the reasons why rape here happens very rarely:) Not like in some moral countries:)

  • TheAmerican
    The guy below is obviously jealous of something

    Whats up the rape rap? They way you see it, it only happens in America. Get a fucking life and quite worrying about my country.

  • anon
    here is a photo gallery from the latest

    http://www.deadhippo.com/photo_albums/kanamara/kanamara.htm

  • http://www.deadhippo.com/ deadhippo
    The facts

    Well, I did a bit of research about this and have attended the festival.

    The festival was originally a fertility festival and the locals would attend to ensure they would have plenty of healthy children. This was a pretty common pagan ritual all over Japan and indeed it is still lightheartedly carried out in many towns. The purpose for the festival as for most of the local festivals was to generate income/trade for the towns people and religious people.

    Later this particular areas festival evolved as this area became a red-light district and as somebody mentioned above, venereal diseases became common. Then the legend about the iron penis was formed and the festival got its current name. And as with many festivals it continued to this day even though people no longer believe the legends.

    It is also true that most people in Japan don’t know about this festival. In fact most people in Tokyo or Yokohama, cities that are part of the same urban conurbation as Kawasaki have more than likely never heard of such an event.

    I have attended many festivals in this area and I have never seen so many foreigners as I have at this one. In fact aside from the JLPT I have never seen so many foreigners in one place as I have at this festival. There are many Japanese people there but I think they have the same curiosity as us. One elderly Japanese lady told me of her experience one day when she wanted to visit Kawasaki Daishi and came across this scene. She was embarrassedly describing the scene to me when I suddenly realised that I had been there taking photos. Oh she laughed.

  • Antarais
    Why must I be from America? *SIGH*

    I myself am an american, and i entierly agree with Virpi’s opinion (well, mostly, anyway…). the US population is generally too uptight about sexuality of any form, and it shrouds all sexual things in mystery, leading to uncertainty and ignorance, which could be ONE of the factors contributing to the horrible acts of american citizens in the past. I myself am the grandson of a man who founded a very controversial Nudist Resort and was one of the key activists in the acceptance of Nudism in America. Look “TheAmerican”, i am not emotionaly scared and i am a contributing member of society. I also do not blindly and baselessly attack other people’s opinion’s simply because i dislike them…. However, I would also like to say that generalizations of any kind are detrimental and innaccurate, so all of the comments about the Universal ignorance, ineptitude, and immaturity of “Americans” simply emphasises the immaturity you have due to the fact that these generalizations foster hatered and bias, things you are all exhibiting in plentiful quantities. Remember: One Idiot doesn’t make a nation of idiots (though having elected bush, you culd argue that the majority are…)

  • sure

    I find it fascinating that comments about how humerous or just plain funny are turned by some into some type of Japanese bashing. You are showing your true bigoted colors when you attack people becuase they think that this festical in particular is wierd or obscene. Where is your sense of humor!? I find it funny because of the very nature of it, not that is is done by some in Japan. Get over yourself….besides you know Korea is so much cooler than Japan.

  • danisaurus
    my goal.

    mhm, it’s my goal to go here when i get older. i don’t think it’s sick. :]

  • mina
    since when is sex abnormal and impure?

    I also agree with Virpi’s opinion.Why do we americans always act like sex is unnatural,or like it is an abnormal thing that you have to be quiet about.We also act so ashamed and act like we are so honorable.We also try to hide it from our children, like it will make them impure and not innocent.Like they’ll become unclean and tainted by “evil”.Hello!… there are kids in elementry+middle schools in America having sex! Mabey us hiding this from our children makes them grow a greater intrest in it and they want to know more, and the only way for them to do that is to experience it themselves…because we don’t like to talk about it in the open and they become afraid to ask questions.Hundreds of people grow up seeing naked people as children and are fine as adults.In my opinion, I think this festival is kinda humerous.It’s just about having fun and praying for good fortune!Not about being uptight and judgemental.

  • sobakawa
    i agree with mina

    this is a strange festival,but it’s nice.i wonder if someone will read this,especially after a year after the last comment.

    note for my people:(penisli konuya yazı yazdım hehe,sırf zevkine,ekşiden falan tıklayan olursa okur diye)

  • Juniper
    Itsy Bitsy Teeny We…

    Gee I am an an American I was married to a guy from Kawasaki and his wasn’t that big. In fact I thought all Japanese ALL had teeny tinies. I guess he wasn’t a good role model for Kawasaki. :(

  • KesersaPGB
    Attention please!!!

    Yes, we r member of Turkish Penis Assocation. We are waiting for all penis-lovers. You can see too many penis gurus and saints in İstanbul streets. And all them ready for help to souls… Please come here peoples, please… Hallelujah…..

  • Sjez

    I agree with Mina and Virpi’s opinions.

    Interestingly, whilst I was in Bali some years ago I came across a lot of wood carvings of the phallus. Not something that I would necessarily buy or display at home, but it certainly invited a lot of comment and smiles from the tourists.

    anon_yougayfucks shows his ignorance and lack of culture though his comments, language and his homophobic signature. Lighten up, get a life and become more open to the variety of our fantastic world.

  • http://twitter.com/faithsaidthat Faith D.

    Seems pretty interesting and fun to me.

    I don’t think it fair to judge a whole race or country of people for the actions or reactions of a few.

    Some seem to forget that people are more apt to comment on bad things than good, so you will often hear from vapid morons and prejudiced idiots than thoughtful, well-eduated, open minded individuals. That is human nature, not American nature;

    Europeans, Asians, Indians, non-American people, (apparently, viewing these comments) can be just as ignorant, intolerant, bigoted, homophobic, uptight, and in general stupid as any American can be.

    You have proven it here.

    Get over yourself. As you can see by the past few years, if America has problems, so does the rest of the world.

    Maybe we should be learning to work together instead of attacking one another. Because I tell you what, if you want to talk about rape, ignorance, bigotry, war, racism, sexism, segregation, hate, intolerance, slavery, classcism, and general world atrocities you only have to open a history book of your country and read.

    http://faithsaidthat.blogspot.com

  • Felicita

    Not all Americans are ignorant. Please, do not make assumptions.