Kanamara FestivalApr 1st, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Festivals
Each April in Kawasaki the Kanamara Festival takes place at the Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Kawasaki, about thirty minutes by train south of Tokyo. It’s an unusual festival and one that may cause you to shake your head and look twice at some of the mikoshi (portable shrines) being paraded through town.
“Huge pink and black phalluses were paraded down the streets of this Japanese town in an annual fertility festival, as some 30,000 worshippers asked for blessings and protection from sexually transmitted diseases.”
Source: Reuters, Phallic festival celebrates fertility in Japan
The Kanamara Festival dates back over three hundred years when prostitutes came to the shrine to ask for protection from syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Today, prayers are for fertility and protection from AIDS and the penis is the symbol of the festival. Volunteers carve daikon (Japanese radishes) in the the shape of the male and female sexual organs and offer them to the gods.
Popular souvenirs from the event are phallus shaped candies and the area surrounding the shrine is decorated with images of the penis in all shapes and sizes!
This years festival will be help on April 5th and starts with a fire ceremony and the opening rites performed by a Shinto priestess. After which a giant pink phallus will be loaded onto a mikoshi (portable shrine) and costumed participants will proudly and boisterously parade it through the streets. This event goes on all day and long into the night.
It’s not your usual festival and certainly not one for the prudish!
How to get to the Kanamara Festival
From Shinagawa take a Keihin Kyuko (red) train towards Yokohama. Get off at Keikyu Kawasaki Station, go down the stairs and take a Daishi Line train three stops to Kawasaki Daishi Station. From there, walk across the street and you’ll find the shrine a few meters down on your right
From JR Kawasaki Station take the No. 23 bus for Daishi and get off at Wakamiya Hachiman-gu shrine.
Wakamiya Hachiman-gu Shrine Access Map – Kawasaki Daishi Station is located in the top right of the map near the number 18 and the shrine is in the red cross hairs at number 4.