His Majesty, the Willy. Imagine men and women, and even people in between genders, of all races and ages, which includes kids and grannies too, but also some dogs, surrendering to the group pleasure of worshipping the penis! The ritual involves engaging your mouth in an enjoyable session of sucking, in a very liberal surrounding – color and size of your sweet lollipop do not matter! It is not the most perverted orgy party you have ever attended, but the religious event called Kanamara Matsuri, organized by the local Shinto shrine in Kawasaki, Japan!
The demon in the possessed vagina was biting off the manhood of woman’s partners
Vagina dentata attacks
It all started with a legend. There was this young woman who rejected to sleep with a demon, so he inhabited her vagina (don’t ask how he got there in the first place!). Jealous as he was, he used his sharp teeth to bite off the penises of two men that tried to sleep with her. Cursed with a castrating toothed vagina (vagina dentata), the desperate woman went to visit a blacksmith (who else?), to ask for help. The expert decided that what she needed was an iron dildo which would trick her inner demon and break his teeth when he tried to bite! The blacksmith made the object and the woman’s vagina was liberated again! The iron phallus got enshrined in the Kanayama Shrine, where pilgrims still come to touch it, not only during the festival.
The Festival of the Iron Phallus started in 1977, but the shrine was a popular sanctuary for local prostitutes even in the 17th century, during the Edo period; this was the non-judgemental place where the sex workers went to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Today, the shrine dedicated to the kind and helpful blacksmith, attracts those in need of divine protection, for fertility, easy child delivery, marriage harmony and business prosperity.
Kanamara Matsuri – pricks welcomed
Many get attracted by penises too; nobody can dispute that. Various phallic sculptures scattered in the courtyard might be an unusual religious decor in Westerner’s eyes. Japanese prove they are not reserved people after all! Wooden plaques called ema, used by Shinto worshippers for writing their prayers, here are decorated with explicit scenes of oral sex, and some cocks as well. It is a year of the rooster after all! Worshippers leave them hanging in the shrine so that the kami deities can receive them.
While I take photographs of the prayer plaques, one woman jumps on the penis-equipped anvil and poses for her social profiles. The selfie-culture changes the way we behave even at supposedly sacred places; pretending to lick the giant phallus, she bursts into laughter. Lollipops shaped like penises, more or less anatomically accurate, produce the similar giggling reaction in attendees. The joy of people-watching starts when they forget what they are munching on and just surrender to the sweetness of the little prick.
Heteros and homos, men and women, kids and their grandparents, they all indulge in this suckling game. All prejudices are put aside. Almost. Those machos who cannot swallow the fact of swallowing the joystick, even if it comes in green color and tastes sweet, they can buy themselves a vagina lollipop, without jeopardizing their masculinity image.
The priestesses will perform the ritual of transferring the spirits into the penis-shaped mikoshis and then let them go to the town
Kanamara Matsuri happens every spring. The first Sunday in April is the day when the giant altars with erect idols leave Kanayama. Shinto followers take their portable shrines (called mikoshi) for a parade. They believe that the mikoshi drives the deity from the primary to the temporary shrine, and on this particular festival, mikoshi happens to come in the phallic form. After the fire lighting ceremony, the priestesses performs the ritual of transferring the spirits into the mikoshi.
There are actually three mikoshis in the parade! First one to hit the streets is the one made of steel, representing the one that the woman used to get rid of the demon. This penis is carried around in the little wooden ship. The next float brings the giant pink penis mikoshi (called Elizabeth, after the drag queen club who donated it). It is carried around by transgender and cross-dressing festivalgoers. The last todger carried around is the one carved out of a tree.
The groups of worshippers dressed in short kimonos revealing their bare legs, take the mobile shrines around the neighborhood, chanting, singing, shouting and waving them wildly from side to side, so the deity doesn’t get bored. It’s the yearly fair ride for these penises! Everybody has fun in this street party! One can almost understand why Aristotle claimed that the comedy as a form evolved from such phallic processions. Known since ancient Greece times, penis parades demonstrate a high dose of humor indeed!
Exorcism for vagina and prejudices
The festival nowadays has become a big market for penis-themed food and memorabilia. There are candies and candles, sausages and bananas, T-shirts and jewelry, masks and sculptures. One can even buy a daikon radish carved into the appropriate shape! Behind the amusing facade, the event raises awareness about sexually transmitted diseases. Awareness AND money for HIV research too! What started as a story of the possessed vagina is becoming a celebration of solidarity, mutual respect, breaking taboos and ridiculous social restrictions to educate each other, with a smile on the face.
For more impressions from Kanamara Matsuri 2017 check the video below! For other videos mapping the extraordinary people, places and passions, visit and follow Pipeaway’s Youtube channel!
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