Japan’s Odd Festival (NSFW – Adult Content)

Every once in a while I see something that leaves me speechless. If you know me at all you can appreciate how rare those occasions are. Today’s Huffington Post Weird News had an article that has left me with my mind spinning.

Apparently the city of Kawasaki Japan has a very unusual holiday which takes places on the second Sunday of each April. A little history before I drop the bomb. There are two supposed reasons for the development of the holiday known as Kanamara Matsuri. One explanation is that it began in the 17th century when prostitutes would gather at the Kanamara Shinto shrine in Kawasaki and pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Not a bad thing to pray for, right? The second suggested reason for the festival is a little stranger. Based on the legend of the “vagina dentata” or more commonly known as the toothed vagina, it revolves around this anatomical anomaly that castrates young men on their wedding nights. Apparently a woman who carried the curse of the toothy vagina decided to get around this disastrous wedding butchery by going to a local blacksmith and having him forge an iron dildo so she could break the teeth of the nasty nibbler. Thus her future spouse was saved and the wedding night could be celebrated safely. The Kanamara shrine is dedicated to the blacksmith and became a shrine for sex workers to make pilgrimage to in order to be sexually protected.

The reason I was left with my mouth hanging open in disbelief is because of how this festival is celebrated in current times. The Festival of the Iron Phallus is celebrated by parading three gigantic penises and altars through the streets. The worshippers bearing theses holy relics are dressed in pink and the streets are crowded with people of all ages, from infants to grandmothers, who dress in kimonos regardless of gender. Singing, chanting and swaying the bearers of the shrine proceed down the street.

There is a radish carving contest, a costume parade, giant wooden penises to be mounted and photographed on, penis lollipops, and all things phallic.

These days the festival is a celebration of health, with prayers for fertility and healthy births as well as raising awareness of safe sex practices and HIV. Funds raised at the festival are used for HIV prevention.

Rather than attach photos of the festival I leave to the reader’s discretion to explore the topic more fully at the following websites.

http://www.fest300.com/festivals/kanamara-matsuri

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/07/japan-penis-festival-kanamara-matsuri_n_5106378.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20140325-ten-exciting-events-not-to-miss-in-april

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