Kanamara Matsuri Festival: the celebration of fertility

tunimaal 2 April 2012 2
Kanamara Matsuri Festival: the celebration of fertility

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The Kanamara Matsuri festival or Iron Penis Festival is an annual celebration of the Penis in Japan. The ceremony was held by some Shinto temple throughout Japan. Come discover this celebration of another kind. 

I invite you to read the article about the Kanamara Matsuri Festival 2012: Iron Penis Festival in Kawasaki which I have been to on the Sunday April 1st 2012.

For many people, Japan is known for its approach of sensual and sex which is opposite to what it is proposed in Western countries. Unfortunately, this brings a lot of misconceptions about this country.

I propose you to discover a particular festival, so special that it would be misinterpreted in the West: Kanamara Matsuri Festival or the celebration of the penis.

What is a Matsuri in Japan?

The Matsuri (祭り) are festivals and celebrations very popular in Japan, which usually take place during the summer (between June and September), and in all municipalities in Japan(at different times depending on the Matsuri).

At Matsuri, the Japanese get together, enjoy some fireworks and engage in local folklore. At some Matsuri the group dances and a parade of floats are organized in the city or neighbourhood concerned, and the participants wear traditional clothes.

Most Matsuri are of religious origin, and are often associated with Shinto.

kanamara matsuri festival iron penis festival kawasaki japan l iron penis 200x300 Kanamara Matsuri Festival: the celebration of fertility

Iron Penis

Kanamara Matsuri or Iron Penis Festival: what is it?

The first Japanese saw that all the liveliness was due to the sexual union between a male and a female. So they incorporated it in their religious beliefs including Shinto. Fertility was, and still is, the heart of Shinto beliefs.

There are still Shinto temples in Japan, which has representation of the Phallus (penis) to be venerated by believers. This is where the case for the temple in Kanagawa prefecture, where the Kanamara Matsuri takes place every year.

The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り) or Iron Penis Festival is a shinto celebration, annually held, to promote fertility. It takes place annually on the first Sunday of April and is held in the city of Kawasaki(Kanagawa Prefecture).

This celebration takes place in the temple Kanayama, who was then assiduously frequented by prostitutes, who came to collect and hoped to get divine protection against veneral diseases.

During this event, three huge penises are paraded through the streets of the city ofKawasaki, in Mikoshi (mobile temple made of wood):

kanamara matsuri festival iron penis festival kawasaki japan l pink penis 200x300 Kanamara Matsuri Festival: the celebration of fertility

Pink Penis

  • The penis made of wood bring in the largest Mikoshi
  • The black iron penis in the boat-shaped Mikoshi
  • The pink penis abnormally large size in the Mikoshi without roof, commonly called Elizabeth, and being carried by men in female outfits.

According to legend, a demon would have unhealthy hidden in the vagina of a young lady, and with the use of his sharp teeth would have castrated two young men on their wedding night. Following this, a blacksmith carved an iron penis to break the teeth of this demon. This object, ultimately, became an object of worship. This is why we celebrate the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki every year.

Today, this celebration is even an opportunity to raise funds for the fight against AIDS. Many foreigners are present out of curiosity, and some Japanese tend to avoid the ceremony by a “shame”.

I want to say that is by no means a festival of sex or that sort of thing. The atmosphere is friendly and very respectful. This is simply a traditional ceremony, and a modicum of respect should be observed. We can have fun but avoid criticizing to criticize, or even, to build false statements about the Japanese and their relationship to sex.

If you are in Japan at that time, I urge you to go to Matsuri Kanamara out of curiosity, it’s worth a visit. 

Find the Kanamara Matsuri Festival on Google Maps:


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2 Comments »

  1. shefali bansal 24 March 2013 at 11 h 38 min - Reply

    Today, first time I came to know about this festival of Japan. first I didn’t believed. But its really very different and interesting festival…

    • tunimaal 25 March 2013 at 7 h 35 min - Reply

      Yes it is really different. You have to see it and experience it ;-)

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