It’s not the size of your festival, it’s what you do with it. Did we say penis festival?
Every spring, thousands visit the town of Kawasaki, Japan to partake in the Kanamara Matsuri, or “Festival of the Steel Phallus.” That’s right, it’s a literal dick-fest.
Festival-goers tote giant penis shrines on their shoulders, wear their best penis-themed outfits and eat, you guess it, phallic foods.
It isn’t just a quirky Burning Man copycat, but rather a serious affair with a rich cultural history. The festival was organized in the 70’s by the priests of Kanayama Jinja, a “place where couples prayed for fertility and marital harmony; during the Edo era, from the 17th to 19th centuries, sex workers would come and pray to be rid of the STIs that they picked up in the course of the job,” according to the Independent.
Its welcoming, lighthearted spirit isn’t meant to be obscene, but to celebrate fertility and diversity of life, as Kimiko Nakamura, former chief priestess at the shrine told the Independent:
“Officials who handle human rights from City Hall have come to the festival and handed out pamphlets, promoting this festival as a LGBT-positive, non-discriminatory event. 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, men, women, or people who aren’t either. Anybody should be able to come to this festival and enjoy it.”
Everyone from grandmas to small children attend the event. It may seem like a street party straight out of the bachelorette section of your local sex toy store, but it’s all meant in good, clean fun.