We Just Missed a Festival for Our Sausages, Guys
It's April, which means your feed is probably starting to become flooded with the pink beauty of Japan's sakura season. But as the country's gorgeous spring time triggers your wanderlust, it's also distracting you from another rather exciting festival in an overlooked Japanese city, Kawasaki. Celebrated every April, Kawasaki holds the Kanamara Matsuri. Translated that's "Festival of the Steel Phallus," but on the streets, it's just called a "Penis Festival."
Before you dismiss it as one of those "only in Japan" things, the Kanamara Matsuri actually has religious and political bases. The festival is organized by the priests of Kanayama Jinja, a shrine where couples go to for fertility and marital harmony. According to an article on the Independent, "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. There was even a festival revolving around fertility and sexual health during those times." The tradition fell limp sometime after that until a Shinto priest revived it in the '70s.
From a discreet event happening only at night to the flamboyant parade visited by thousands of tourists that it is today, the Kanamara Matsuri is also known to promote inclusivity.
Climactic, right? The last one happened amusingly on April 1, but these pictures will make you want to plan for the next one.
By the way, you can see cherry blossoms in Kawasaki, too.