Love & Sex

Japan’s Annual Festival of the Iron Phallus Celebrates All Things Penis

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Penis candles, penis hats, penis floats — and sexual health awareness.

If you were not in Kawasaki, Japan yesterday, you might have missed the city’s annual celebration of Kanamara Matsuri, also known as the “Festival of the Iron Phallus.” And while it sounds (and looks) like a bachelorette party gone wild, the event is actually part of an ancient tradition. It’s a celebration of fertility, long marriages, healthy births, and awareness of sexually transmitted diseases — and it has been since the early 17th century.

Back in the day, explains the festival’s website, local prostitutes would gather at Kawasaki’s Kanamara Shinto shrine to pray for protection against STIs. Today, though, the festival is for everyone — and despite it’s deeper meaning, organizers are quick to assure the public that it’s “still a penis festival.” Yes, there are fertility prayers, Shinto ceremonies, and HIV awareness — that’s the point — but also, there are penis hats, penis puppets, penis floats, penis lollipops, penis radish-carving, a giant penis altar, and a penis parade. It’s a day, they say, to “go all out with the male sexual organ.” A long, hard day.

[h/t Huffington Post]

Images via Fest 300.