Hello, Lovelies! Welcome to this week’s blog post! Below you will find pictures related to this week’s topic, Tiffany’s show notes, and information on the podcast featured during this week’s drink break.

This week’s drink break is brought to you by the awesome Kinkcast! KinkCast is a show in which celebrate everything that makes sex fun and weird! Every week we explore the different fetishes that make sex so fascinating. From asphyxiation to zoophilia we will be covering it all! Click on their logo to listen!

Tiffany’s Notes

Let’s talk about an ancient Japanese legend. So the story goes, a vicious demon hid inside the vagina of a young woman after falling in love with her and being rejected. Such was this entity’s jealousy that it proceeded to bite off the penises of two young men on two separate wedding nights. In the aftermath of this grisly ordeal, the woman sought help from a blacksmith who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon’s teeth and set the woman free. This iron penis has since been erected at Kanayama Shrine.

Which brings us to our topic!  Kanamara Matsuri is a Phallus Festival held at Kanayama Shrine, which is located within the grounds of Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Kawasaki. (south of Tokyo)

Kanayama Shrine is dedicated to Kanayama Hiko no Kami and Kanayama Hime no Kami, a divine couple celebrated as the protectors of blacksmiths and of sexuality. 

Legend has it that when Shinto goddess Izanami no Mikoto gave birth to a fire god, she suffered great injuries on the lower half of her body. It’s said that Kanayamahiko-no-Kami and Kanayamahime-no-Kami, two gods enshrined at the Kanayama Shrine, healed Izanami’s injuries.

Because of this myth involving Izanami, those seeking help with fertility, safe childbirth, and matrimonial happiness began to pray to the two gods as well.

However, not only married couples praying for children are taking part in this festival. Every year, more than 50,000 people with various backgrounds, nationalities, and sexual identities take part in this event.

How did it get so big?

The reason why this festival reached this scale has to do with its historical background.

The history of Kanayama Shrine can be traced back to the Edo period (1603-1868). (kimonos with intricate up-dos, and samurais)

In those days, Kawasaki used to be a lodging area along the Tokaido, the main road connecting the eastern capital of Edo to Kyoto. It is said that the women who worked at the inns as maids and sex workers used to come to Kanayama Shrine to pray to be protected from diseases and misfortune.

Even in modern times, people suffering from sexually transmitted diseases kept coming during the night to the shrine to pray. This was what prompted the Kanayama Shrine parishioners to initiate a festival that anybody would be able to enjoy in daylight, without being discriminated.

This is why at the Kanamara Matsuri you’ll be able to see various types of people enjoying the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade, including representatives of sexual minorities and foreign residents or visitors. 

On the day of the festival, the first Sunday in April, the participants can visit the shrine and the exhibition hall within the shrine grounds, or buy penis-shaped souvenirs and sweets from the numerous food stalls.

In the exhibition hall of Kanayama Shrine, visitors can see a collection of images, objects and books related to other traditions of sexuality. There they can find out about other festivals in the world dedicated to guardian deities of sexuality besides Kanamara Matsuri.

The highlight of the festival is the parade that starts at noon. It features three portable shrines (mikoshi) that carry phallus-shaped sacred objects.

The one that opens the procession is the Kanamara Funamikoshi – a boat-shaped roofed portable shrine on which a large black iron phallus is carried.

Next up in the procession is the Elizabeth Mikoshi, the uncontested star of the show.

This mikoshi was donated to the event by Elizabeth Kaikan, a drag bar in Tokyo that has been running since the 1980s. It features a large pink phallus, often draped in ropes (shimenawa) and folded paper (shide) that indicate a holy object in Shintoism, and usually protected by a lacy canopy. 

So, this festival has become an outlet for certain marginalized LGBTQIA+ groups in Japan, who often have to tone down or entirely hide their queer identities – as the infamous Japanese proverb goes, “the nail that sticks out will be hammered down”. Here, fluid gender identities and sexualities across the spectrum are celebrated, the most visible example being the group of cross-dressing men and transwomen who carry the Elizabeth Mikoshi.

Kanamara Omikoshi, a large square roofed portable shrine housing a central wooden phallus, is the last portable shrine in the procession and also the oldest of the three shrines. (Couldn’t find how old… )

the tradition of this festival fizzled out around the end of the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1970 that the chief priest at the time, Hirohiko Nakamura, decided the event needed to pop back up, albeit on a fairly small scale, and at night. After about 40 years of this, the festival’s popularity pocket-rocketed (I mean sky rocketed) when, in 2012, TV star Matsuko Deluxe – an outspoken advocate of sex positivity and LGBTQIA+ rights – name-checked the festival. And now, it’s a fixture on the festival circuit and sees about 50,000 attendees each year. It is said that you can literally feel the excitement pulsate through the crowd. (not really but I couldn’t find a place to put pulsate…)

What can you do at this festival? I’ll tell you after this drink break…

Aside from watching the procession, you can enjoy all the traditional festival foods and activities – plus a few that you’ll only find at the Kanamara Matsuri.

On the traditional side, you’ll find plenty of sweet treats to wrap your mouth around… delicious dishes such as yakisoba (stir-fried noodles), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), takoyaki (fried balls of batter with a piece of octopus inside) and the much-loved choco banana – the chocolate-dipped fruit makes the most of its already phallic shape.

The snacks exclusive to Kanamara Matsuri include penis- and vulva-shaped lollipops in various flavors. These items are probably the most popular (and Instagrammable) treat there, so be sure to buy one early in the day. If you’d rather have a nice liquid slide down the back of your throat, you can visit the amazake stand, where you’ll be given a small, salty fish to eat before your cup of sweet, milky amazake – apparently, the combination mimics the taste and texture of semen.

For something a little stronger (amazake is very low in alcohol), you can buy a bottle of sake. Some are labelled with the one kanji symbol 金玉, others with another symbol 万古, both plays on words based on the fact that the kanji have several possible pronunciations. The first one means “precious jewels” when pronounced kingyoku, or “testicles” as kintama. The second is “eternity” when pronounced banko, but could also be read as manko, which is slang for vagina.

Perhaps you could try your hand at carving a penis out of a radish or stop for a photo op on one of the wooden phalluses set up in the shrine grounds. Of course, you could always just go shopping – from keychains to candles, there’s a whole range of themed goods available, and the proceeds go to ongoing HIV research.

While it began as a religious event, the current priestess of the Shinto shrine had made it known that Kanamara Matsuri is now one that celebrates diversity, inclusion, and sex-positivity. 

“Officials who handle human rights from City Hall have come to the festival and handed out pamphlets, promoting this festival as an LGBT-positive, non-discriminatory event,” Kimiko Nakamura said. “This event has deep, wide roots in that kind of thinking, and we don’t want anybody to take it another way. We consider that there should be no discrimination against anybody, including LGBT people. Anybody should be able to come to this festival and enjoy it.”

It is carried out in a residential street.  So you can imagine the throbbing mass of festival-goers winding down the tight alleys can be a bit uncomfortable… B==D

If you would like more penis festivals in your life, give this a try.

Harvest Festival ( Hōnensai) is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15 in Japan. Hōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

 The festival’s main features are Shinto priests playing musical instruments, a parade of ceremonially garbed participants, all-you-can-drink sake, and a GIANT wooden penis.

The 280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (8ft)-long, 200-250 year old Japanese cypress wooden phallus called youbutsu (陽物, lit. “the male object”) or ō-owase-gata (大男茎形, lit. “the grand Phallus shape/ object”) which is carried from a shrine called Shinmei Sha (in even-numbered years) in Komaki on a large hill or from Kumano-sha Shrine (in odd-numbered years), to a shrine called Tagata Jinja in Komaki, Tagata, Aichi Prefecture.

The festival starts with celebration and preparation at 10:00 a.m. at Tagata Jinja, where all sorts of foods and souvenirs (mostly phallus-shaped or related) are sold. Sake is also passed out freely from large wooden barrels. At about 2:00 p.m. everyone gathers at Shinmei Sha for the start of the procession. Shinto priests say prayers and impart blessings on the participants and shrines mikoshi, as well as on the large wooden penis, which are to be carried along the parade route.

When the procession makes its way down to Tagata Jinja the phallus in its mikoshi is spun furiously before it is set down and more prayers are said. Everyone then gathers in the square outside Tagata Jinja and waits for the mochi nage, at which time, officials on raised platforms shower the crowd with small rice cakes on high. The festival concludes at about 4:30 p.m.