Kanamara Matsuri festival
April 6, 2008 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Whip it out and dance don't be afraid (NSFW?). Yes! It is that time of the year again : today Japanese people celebrate Kanamara Matsuri (金まら祭り), the annual Kawasaki Fertility Festival (previously on Hōnen Matsuri (豊年祭)
posted by elpapacito (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
omedetou gozaimasu, dai-chinpo-sama! (how do you switch to kana on a mac, anyway?)
posted by bashos_frog at 12:21 PM on April 6, 2008

Oh my! Did you see the girl with the penis lollypop at about the 0:50 mark? My, oh, my. Won't anybody think of the children?

(I could have sworn this was on MeFi before, but I can't find it. Anyway, what fun.)
posted by caddis at 12:25 PM on April 6, 2008

Interesting holiday. Does it come down your chimney?
posted by hal9k at 12:32 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

やった! とても優しかった、それからマックが大好き。
posted by bashos_frog at 12:37 PM on April 6, 2008

I'd love to see this phallus festival combined with the buttock-revealing naked festival but alas these charming old traditions are being threatened by a modern sensitivity. Seems that phalluses and buttocks are OK but exposed chest hair is now offensive to some Japanese.
posted by binturong at 12:47 PM on April 6, 2008

Here is the link on the U.S. version of YouTube (rather then the Italian)
posted by delmoi at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2008

The way the float is tied down is making me...uncomfortable.
posted by DU at 3:07 PM on April 6, 2008

They also celebrate this in Fukuoka (they parade a giant green stone one there) and in Fuchu, a suburb of Tokyo on the border of rural Saitama prefecture (take the train in the wrong direction and you'll see rice paddies!). Fuchu's version has the locals parading in the streets with giant wooden ones made of rough-hewn logs. The story behind their festival is that the government banned it during WWII because it was producing too many illegitimate children. But these being country people, the residents of Fuchu soon started it up again, as they cared more about fertility and social harmony (a thing like this giving a married woman at least an annual chance to conceive if her husband turned out to be sterile) than about Western ideas of propriety.
My father was living in the area in the 1980s and didn't know about the festival when he first moved there. He told me that some women asked him to the festival while giggling uncontrolably. After he found out what the festival was about, he said "that's as direct a proposition as you're going to get in Japan!"
As soon as I find the snapshots(!) my father sent me, I'll see about adding to the Wikipedia article...
posted by bunky at 4:23 PM on April 6, 2008

I've been to the festival at Tagata Jinja in Komaki, just outside Nagoya, which occurs in March.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2008

Aw man, I was going to go to that festival, but didn't realize how early it ended and wound up working until about an hour before the end. Tragic, as it's the second year in a row I've wound up missing it.
Bunky, when's the Fuchu festival? That's only 40 minutes or so by train from me, so I'd love to go.
posted by GoingToShopping at 10:26 PM on April 6, 2008


- Men in drag: check
- Risque floats: check
- Penis everywhere: check
- Dancing: check

So is this the Japanese version of Gay Pride?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:09 AM on April 7, 2008

PeterMcDermott writes "So is this the Japanese version of Gay Pride?"

Uhm not really, shouldering cocks around is a quite ancient tradition that can also be found in other cultures, such as the ancient roman one in which the phallus is not only a fertility symbol, but was
an apotropaic device
However, these representations from the Greek and Roman periods might not be as sexual as many perceive. It was during this time, and even today, that certain people had an “Evil Eye.” This “Eye” could cause great harm when cast, and many people of the time employed devices to protect themselves from the danger of the Evil Eye. Defense mechanisms used against the Evil Eye are known as apotropaic devices. These objects often took many different representations. During the Greek and Roman period, a common form seen was the penis. They could be seen on amulets worn around the neck, on rings, decorating walls, and even on objects worn by animals. Knowing this information, viewers can now look at these objects that once seemed “pornographic,” with fresh eyes and see how these phallic images were not meant to entice, but to protect.

The Evil Eye is the belief that just one glance could cause damage to life and property. This idea of the Evil Eye was not only prevalent in Greco-Roman period, but is still found today. The Evil Eye was dangerous in not only the sense that it could destroy life and property, but that it could be possessed by anyone and that everyone was susceptible to its dangers. Almost anybody could possess the Evil Eye if they were to become envious of others in such areas as beauty, wealth, and health. This envious nature put more prominent people in danger because of their status. Babies and young children were thought to be susceptible as well. Animals were also thought to be effected by the Eye, especially horses, because of their economic productivity. With this deep belief in the Evil Eye, certain measures were taken to protect oneself from the destructive powers imposed by the Eye. As a result of this belief of the Evil Eye one can see the adoption of jewelry and home goods with apotropaic designs on them, such as amulets, rings, paintings, mobiles, and other objects.
A contemporary interpretation would be that one person carrying such an amulet is a "perv" or has a particular "cock fetish" , but I'd rather advance that once the primary function of the penis is associated to reproduction, it's almost immediate to use its image as a symbol of fertility and arousement.

On the other hand, breasts and hips are more commonly considered feminine symbols of fertility , but I guess there out to be some shrine to vulva as well , if anything because , even if less prominent and visible than a penis, the association with birth and life is a lot more easier, immediate and significant.
posted by elpapacito at 2:57 AM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Been there, done that (twice) '79 and '80

It was part of a group from the Navy, like the second to the last link. There are really no words to describe it from a western point of view. It actually is a joyful celebration of fertility, where fertility = penis. I have a little brass phallus somewhere, alas I remain childless. Gave one to my dad also, with six kids he never needed one :)
posted by djrock3k at 6:49 AM on April 7, 2008

In Nihohe Japan, a small town in northern Iwate Prefecture, each year the men of the town race up a steep hill carrying a platform on which a wooden carved penis (about 5' long) sits adorned in paper (ala the Shinto style). Half way up, one must put down the platform, take up some rings, and toss them onto an upright penis in the middle of the road (another wooden one you pervs). Successful, the platform is again taken up, and raced to the top near the train station.

The entire town turns out to cheer the men on. My team never one...the firemen were victorious both years I was there. I did have to toss the rings each year, so the town could laugh at the foreigner, but it was a scene of joy and ribaldry! I laughed the whole time, and went out for drinks with most of the teams afterwards.

We may act all giggly and prudish over this, but one can see many things like this in fertility/spring festivals throughout history. Heck, the easter egg is a fertility symbol in our own culture. As snicker-worthy as anything (though watching a group of elementary school kids ride astride a 10 foot long wooden phallus will make even the most liberal person blush). We just are too puritanical.

or what elpapacito said.
posted by Dantien at 11:30 AM on April 7, 2008

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