Today, I went to a fertility festival, Kanamara Matsuri, in Kawasaki, it should have been called PENIS FESTIVAL because that's essentially all it was. Sculptures, foods, and shrines dedicated to the PENIS.
Now, why would I go to a place like this you ask? I propose to you this question: Why WOULDN'T I go to a penis festival? It was so uniquely Japanese and so amazingly hilarious and beyond belief! I'm so glad that I went.
About 14 of us from our dorm went together. This one guy, Nick (who's been here since September), organized it and we all came, completely unaware of what we were about to see. We met at 8am, tired and out of it, some people were still jetlagged having only gotten here on Thursday. It took us about an hour, 3 train transfers and ¥1000 to get there, but oh when we did...
The first thing we saw were these absolutely gorgeous cherry blossom trees (and hard core liquor) in full bloom. In Japanese, cherry blossom in full bloom is called Sakura Mankai. In Japan, sakura are such a huge deal that people have picnics on tarps where they sit and drink alcohol underneath the trees all day. This is called Hanami. Some spots are so coveted, that company employees are paid to stake out a spot at 8am and wait until 5pm until their coworkers finish so they can drink under the nicest sakura tree. That's what I thought this fertility festival was going to be.
We're in Japan. Guess again.
The next thing I saw were a bunch of old guys hunched over carving penises out of daikon. Can you get more Japanese than that?
Over in the distance was this massive pink penis that they paraded down the street later.
Don't get me wrong-- this was a legitimate fertility festival, not just a bunch of gratuitous phallic imagery. In the recent years, the festival has also been a way to voice AIDS awareness.
There were a lot of couples there who were trying to get pregnant. In the shrine, they had priests praying and chanting over them. There was a lot of incense present, so I didn't go too close.
I seriously doubt these kids knew what they were eating...
These kids (my friends) did. There were no shortage of penis (and vagina) pops, long sausages, and other penisy food. One thing we all noticed was the fact that we (as well as all the other gaijin tourists) were pretty much the only ones buying all the penis merchandise while all the old perverted Japanese men took THOUSANDS of photos.
My friend Jordan and I chose to be classy and bought penis and vagina bandanas.
Here are some awesome penis candles.
Penis... from A Clockwork Orange!
More penis sake glasses etc.
This festival was UNBELIEVABLY crowded. I was being pushed and shoved all over the damn place like it was Tokyo rush hour or something! It was full of people of all colors. TONS of foreigners, the largest amount of black people I've EVER seen in Japan, young Japanese families with their children, and of course, old Japanese pervs with professional DSLR cameras.
I'd like to think every demographic was pretty adequately represented.
Seemed like the ero-ero (perverted) feeling followed us, because we went shopping afterwards and saw these err... pillows.