Kanamara Matsuri: Phallus Festival in Kawasaki

I want to introduce one of the weirdest festivals in modern Japan: The Kanamara Matsuri (aka “The Phallus Festival”).

Warning: Some of the following photos contain nudity to a certain degree and also show “phallus items“. If you feel easily offended by this, don’t read on!

Visited: April 1st 2012

The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り) also known as “Festival of the Steel Phallus” is a traditional Shinto festival.
In recent days it has become a very popular festival in Japan – especially among foreign tourists:

Kanamara Matsuri

It is very crowded and locals told me that every year more and more people come.
If you don’t like crowds or places in Japan with more foreign people than Japanese, then DON’T GO THERE!
I usually hate “popular” things like that where everybody and their friends are, but I wanted to experience this festival at least once.

It is held on the first Sunday in April (*however in 2011 they cancelled the festivities due to the Great Tohoku Earthquake).


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Kanamara Matsuri

The Kanamara Matsuri is held at the Kanayama Shrine (金山神社) in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture (map). The location can be easily accessed by train from Yokohama (~ 22 mins) or Tokyo (~33 mins). Get off at “Kawasaki-Daishi Station“.

Kanamara Matsuri

The festival dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867). There is a famous legend among locals that explains the origins of the “Kanamara Matsuri”:
Once there was a sharp-toothed demon who fell in love with a beautiful young woman. She wasn’t interested in the demon and when she decided to marry another man, the demon became very jealous. He inhabited her vagina the night before the wedding. That way the demon bit off the penis of two of her husbands.
Everybody in the village was upset and so finally a blacksmith forged a steel phallus. With that they tricked the demon. His teeth were broken and he left the girl’s vagina.
This eventually led to the enshrinement of the iron phallus and the Kanamara Matsuri.

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

From then on prostitues would pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
In recent days a lot of married couples visit when they want to start a family. It’s also frequented by transvestites and gays / lesbians.

The festival has changed a lot. It’s a huge and crazy event that combines Shinto traditions with modern elements.
In the past few years the festival also became known in foreign countries and so more and more foreigners visit every year. The money earned from all the goods they sell is used to help AIDS research.

The festival will start around 11 a.m., but it might be a good idea to arrive a bit earlier than that as it easily gets crowded later on. It then will continue until the late afternoon. You can find more details about the upcoming festival here.

Kanamara Matsuri

A lot of the ema and lucky charms of the shrine are phallus-themed as well.

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

You can purchase a huge variety of “phallus items” on the shrine grounds. As mentioned earlier the money earned will go into HIV research funds.

Kanamara Matsuri

Another attraction are penis (o-chinko) and vagina (o-manko) boiled candy popsicles. They sell out rather quickly, so if you want to grab some, you should arrive early!

Kanamara Matsuri

And when I say they have all sorts of items you can imagine (and can’t imagine!) I MEAN it! *g*

Kanamara Matsuri

Not only the items were interesting, but also the people selling them. Can you see the man in the background, wearing a “penis nose”?

Kanamara Matsuri

This woman with a hilarious penis thingie was advertising her stand where you can buy “Penis Energy Balls“.

In fact, they were just selling normal “takoyaki” (たこ焼き).

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

Carved products, keychains and even drinking straws could be purchased!

Kanamara Matsuri

Even more hilarious than the items were the people who attended the festival.

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

This man got all the attention. He ran around almost completely naked!

Of course, foreigners were the first who approached him to take photos. I was a bit intimidated and just took two quick shots while passing by.

Kanamara Matsuri

A lot of weird fellows! I’m quite sure that it was a man who was hiding inside this hentai / anime costume.

Kanamara Matsuri

*LOL* I have no idea where this dog(?) came from. So many weirdos, but that’s what makes the festival interesting. And there were a LOT of Japanese children around – in case you were wondering!

Kanamara Matsuri

There are 3 types of mikoshi (portable shrines) that are carried throughout the local streets during the festival.

Above you see one of them: The Kanamara Fune Mikoshi (かなまら舟神輿, fune = ship).

Another one is “The Big Kanamara Mikoshi” (かなまら大神輿). It’s not pictured, but looks similar to the one above.

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

One of the highlights of the festival is the third mikoshi, a huge pink penis called “Elizabeth Mikoshi” (エリザベス神輿). It represents the legendary “steel phallus” who helped the young woman to get rid of the demon. The original “steel phallus” is located in the “Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine” (若宮八幡宮) which is one of the very few remaining fertility shrines.

Kanamara Matsuri

The pink penis is so popular that even Pikachu was following it!!! (O__O”) [/random]

Kanamara Matsuri Kanamara Matsuri

Carrying around the three mikoshi was part of a huge parade through the streets near the Kanayama Shrine and the Kawasaki-Daishi Station.

Kanamara Matsuri

Almost every parade in Japan has “flag wavers“. The flags of the Kanamara Matsuri were especially colorful. Some of them had Momotaro (aka “Peach Boy”, 桃太郎) on them.


Extra Travel Tip:

You might want to check out nearby sights (just a few mins of walk) while you’re there such as the Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple or the Chinese Garden Shinshu-en.


Festival Information:
Festival Date and Hours:
1st Sunday in April (11:00 until roughly 16:30)
Entrance fee:
The festival can be attended for free.
Time required:
half a day to a full day
A short walk from Kawasaki-Daishi Sta.
Please note: Prices as well as opening hours / holidays are subject to change. Please make sure to follow the provided link to the official website to check out the latest updates.


  • Sehe ich das richtig, dass das Festival dann zwischen Tokyo und Yokohama stattfindet? Das wäre für mich ja perfekt! Quasi um die Ecke. Das werde ich mir nicht entgehen lassen. =D

    • You consider it typical Japanese? That’s very interesting.
      What makes it so special for me is that it’s anything, but a typical festival! :D
      I hope you’ll get a chance to experience it some day.

    • Well, the original idea behind it is nothing you have to protect your kids from, I guess.
      I’m not sure what to think about it now that it has turned into “this spectacle”. *g*
      The kids all looked like they had a lot of fun. I’m sure most of them didn’t really understand what was going on anyways.

  • I didn’t know about the Phallus Festival :) Such a fun thing to go to. Thanks for sharing! Love your photos. Thanks for mentioning the man wearing a “penis nose”, I din’t see him :) Fun Fun Fun!

    • It’s definitely a very unique and interesting experience, so if you happen to come to Japan in April, make sure to check it out – as it’s not far away from Tokyo!
      Glad you like the photos. Thanks! :)

  • Great write-up. I remember finding a solitary temple on a hillside south of Tokyo, and inside was a giant wooden phallus. Like, surprise!

    It’s funny how a few years in Japan will desensitize you to things like this though, don’t you think? It’s a progression from Oh-my-God! to ==> Well-that-was-unexpected to ==> Oh-that?-that’s-just-Japan.

    • There are only very few temples like that, so you were lucky?! ;)

      I agree. When I first heard about this festival – and also saw a few photos – long before I even moved to Japan, I giggled and was like: “OMG! Seriously?”
      But it really has changed to a typical Japanese “heeee~” reaction now. *g*

  • this festivall
    very good
    its mydream my vish :ehehe:
    i live in iran
    the very big goantanamo :notamused:
    tanks :heart:

  • since when exactly is that festival? …just curious …
    I lived in Japan …. but it was like 20 years ago…. and I cant remember that….
    otherwise..been to a few other festival back then :)

    • Hello, Irina.

      As I’ve written in this blog post, this festival dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867).
      Maybe you just missed the festival when you lived in Japan? I know a lot of people who live nearby and have never even heard of it, even Japanese people! ;)

  • Umm….whoah!…I know fertility is important but..parading a massive phallus and selling all those phallus objects in the open is amazing and shocking to me. I wonder if simply the display alone actually encourages alot of desire and fertility in itself. I wonder how I would feel if I was there during the festival and with so many women present. Wow. Thanks for the story and pics.

    • There are families with their children attending the festival. The participating miko are also children.
      Fertility is seen as something natural and not obscene although the festival has changed a lot in recent years.
      I understand that the pink phallus and some of the items they sell seem very strange and surprising. :)

      • Yes its about fertility…life…and the rewards of having children and a family. But it’s also making me feel well….very..fertile too. Fascinating. Thanks! arigato.