Friday, April 26, 2013

Japanese Penis Festival - Kanamara Matsuri

The Kanamara Matsuri of Kawasaki, Japan is a cocky little festival where the floats would make a sailor blush. It's a balls-to-the-wall festival where zaniness reigns supreme with giant penis floats, unconvincing drag queens, people sucking on penis lollipops, and dick-themed hats and costumes.

The origins of the festival go back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). Supposedly there lived a girl who had a demon take up residence in a certain part of female anatomy. When she was married her husband found out about her hidden inhabitant to his horror. In the process of consummating the marriage, the husband was castrated when the devil bit off the poor fellow's member. A second husband also suffered the same fate (presumably no one told him about the first husband).

A local blacksmith forged an iron phallus and when this was put in the proper (or improper) place, the devil broke its teeth on it and thus fled. The devil-quelling device was enshrined and in later times ladies of the evening came to the shrine to pray for success in their business and to avoid the typical pitfalls of their profession namely STDs. Today the festival raises funds for AIDS research and other sexually transmitted diseases. 

The Kanamara Matsuri takes place the first Sunday in April in Kawasaki-Daishi. The parade begins around 12 going around the small town and coming back to the shrine around 1:30. There are three floats or mikoshi (portable shrine). One is the principle object of veneration, the iron phallus which defeated the devil. The other two attract the most attention, camera shots, laughter, and gasps. One is a large black metal phallus complete with metal balls housed in a small shrine building which is carried by locals. The other could arguably be called the belle of the ball, the cock of the walk, the pink warrior of Tadgerton - it's an enormous graphically-represented pink penis that stands straight up at attention and it is carried aloft by some very unconvincing drag queens.

It's a surreal experience that is worth checking out though it's very crowded and if you have a hankering for penis and vagina lollipops get in line - a long line.

The Kanamara Matsuri - Festival of the Iron Phallus

Japanese girls enjoying penis lollipops

Long-nose Tengu leads the parade

The festival attracts a lot of people

A couple of dickheads

Cyber Vampire Penis Worshippers?

Japanese Elvis enjoys the Penis Festival

Some interesting (and graphic) ema prayer boards at the shrine

Oh, Japanese girls!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Outdoor Sumo at Yasukuni Shrine 2013

In April, sumo gets back to its roots at Yasukuni Shrine with an outdoor event. In olden times, sumo was generally held outdoors at shrines and temples or before gathered assemblies of august groups such as the shogun, daimyo (feudal lord), even the Emperor.

Hono Ozumo is a special ceremonial sumo event held at a shrine such as Yasukuni Shrine. Lower rank wrestlers (maku-shita) and top rank wrestlers (maku-uchi) compete. Even the yokozuna the highest rank in sumo compete at Hono Ozumo. If there is more than one yokozuna, they will compete against each other. Sumo can have several yokozuna at the same time but it is relatively rare to have more than two. Usually to see a yokozuna match between two yokozuna is a rare treat. Only on the last day of a tournament can one see this and it's very difficult to get tickets for that day. 

This year was a chance to see such a yokozuna match, the first in four years as Yokozuna Asashoryu retired in February of 2010. Hakuho has been the only yokozuna until September of 2012 when Harumafuji was promoted. This was their first yokozuna match at Yasukuni. 

Wrestlers trying to get a leg-up on each other

Yokozuna Hakuho Ring-entering ceremony

Lift Off!



About Me

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Tokyo, Japan
Vagabond traveler currently hold up in Tokyo. I've done a far bit of traveling and had a few interesting adventures along the way. This blog is a chronicle of adventures past and present and those yet to come. I’ve been to about 30 countries though some no bigger than a kitchen table. I’ve run with the bulls of Pamplona, hiked the Inca Trail, got mugged in Mexico City, floated down the Nile in an old boat, climbed the Great Pyramid of Egypt, got ripped at Oktoberfest, and rode the notorious Tokyo Yamanote Halloween Party Train.