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What to know about Japan's phallic festival for fertility and safe sex

Thousands of tourists flock to Kawasaki, Japan yearly to celebrate one thing – the penis.

Japan's annual penis festival [Howwe]

In Japan, amidst the blend of ancient tradition and modern innovation, lies one of the country's most talked-about festivals.

The Kanamara Matsuri, or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, is an annual event that celebrates fertility, safe sex, and marital happiness in a manner that might seem unconventional to the uninitiated.

This festival, held every spring in Kawasaki, just outside Tokyo, has deep cultural roots and carries messages of hope, health, and inclusivity. Here's everything you need to know about this fascinating celebration.

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Kanamara Matsuri dates back to the Edo period and has its origins in local legends. One such legend tells of a demon that hid inside the vagina of a young woman and castrated two men on their wedding nights. The woman sought help from a blacksmith, who crafted a steel phallus to break the demon's teeth, thus ending its terror.

This tale symbolises the power of the phallus as a protector against misfortune, leading to the celebration of fertility, protection, and the prosperity of descendants.

Today, Kanamara Matsuri attracts thousands of visitors from across Japan and around the world.

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The festival features a parade with three giant penis-shaped mikoshi (portable shrines), including one made of steel, paying homage to the legend.

Participants and spectators dress in traditional attire, carry penis-shaped carvings, and enjoy music, food, and festivities that fill the streets of Kawasaki. The atmosphere is joyous and open, with a strong sense of community and celebration.

Aside from its historical and cultural significance, Kanamara Matsuri serves contemporary causes. Proceeds from the festival go towards HIV/AIDS research and awareness, making it an event with a strong social impact. The festival also promotes safe sex practices and fosters an environment of acceptance and support for the LGBTQ+ community, showcasing Japan's progressive stance on sexual health and inclusivity.

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The phallic imagery prevalent throughout the festival is symbolic of fertility, protection, and the celebration of life. Souvenirs ranging from candies and vegetables to art and trinkets are fashioned in phallic shapes, each carrying the festival's themes of health, fertility, and protection.

These items are popular among visitors, who take them home as reminders of the festival's messages or as gifts symbolising good luck and protection.

Kanamara Matsuri has gained international attention for its approach to celebrating fertility and raising awareness about sexual health. Visitors from around the globe are drawn to the festival's open, inclusive atmosphere and its blend of traditional Japanese culture with modern societal values.

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This content was created with the help of an AI model and verified by the writer.

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