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It's Christmastime for my penis.

At first glance, you might think it’s just a penis parade, what the huge pink penis being tugged across the street. But it is in fact the Kanamara Matsuri, an ancient Shinto festival designed to honor fertility, prevent STDs, and raise money for HIV research.

Oh my.

The Kanamara Matsuri, which translates to “Big Iron Penis Lord,” is celebrated during the first week of April in Kawasaki, Japan. The event concludes on the first Sunday of April, which this year ironically coincided with the Christian holiday of Easter. So while many Westerners celebrated by eating chocolate eggs and chasing bunny rabbits on April 3rd, the Japanese paraded through town with a big, giant penis.

The festival, which has been held since the 1600s, centers around the legend of a demon that, according to Wikipedia, “hid inside the vagina of a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights.” In retaliation, the young damsel sought the assistance of a blacksmith, who in turn built an iron penis to combat the demon.

This led the Shinto people—Shinto is a form of spirituality practiced by over 90% of Japan’s citizens—to build a giant penis shrine that prostitutes would visit to seek protection from STDs. In due time, the shrine became portable and thus a festival was borne.

Nowadays, the Kanamara Matsuri festival features a plethora of penis-related items like penis-shaped candies, penis-shaped candles, penis-shaped food, and even a gigantic penis-shaped wooden battering ram that also serves as a great sitting spot for hot nurses.

Plus the festival has recently gained strong international appeal, as many tourists tend to gravitate toward it. “In general, traditional Japanese festivals are not very accessible to foreigners, but this one is different,” said head priestess Kimiko Nakamura, during an interview with Reuters in April 2008.

Many tourists even find the Kanamara Matsuri festival rather impressive, in that it’s quite a liberal feat to haul a penis through the ‘Main Street’ of an Asian country, let alone any country. “You wouldn’t find a festival like this in the UK,” said Angela Wheaton. “Maybe in secret somewhere, but nothing like this.”.

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