Unusual April Photo Opportunity: Japan’s Penis Festival

If you’re looking for a truly different photo opportunity, you might consider attending this unusual Japanese festival where revelers carry gigantic phalluses through the streets of a Japanese city.

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Photo by Takanori / CC-BY

The Kanamara Matsuri (“Festival of the Steel Phallus”) – also called the ‘Penis Festival’, is a Shinto fertility festival held on the first Sunday of April in Kawasaki, Japan. The festivities start at Kawasaki’s Kanayama Shrine.

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Photo by Guilhem Vellut / CC-BY

The highlight of the celebration is when the gigantic phalluses are carried out of the shrine on portable shrines (mikoshi) and paraded throughout the streets. Capturing a good photo isn’t easy as you’ll have to contend with crowds of onlookers.

Parade at Penis festival, Kawasaki
Parade at Penis festival, at Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki

Photo by Guilhem Vellut / CC-BY

During the event, penis-themed souvenirs ranging from penis-shaped lollipops and chocolates, to pens, key chains and more, are on sale.

Penis candles
Penis candles sold at a stand at the Kanamara Festival

Photo by Masayuki Kawagishi / CC-BY

What might seem as an outlandish display of sexuality is actually a very family-friendly affair. The crowd is full of people taking snapshots, so you don’t need to feel self-conscious taking photos.

Penis Festival @ Kanamara Festival @ Kanayama Shrine @ Kawasaki
Woman having photo taken on wooden phallus by friend

Photo by Guilhem Vellut / CC-BY

Author: Kana Kukui

Part Asian/part Western, and having lived almost my entire life in Asia, photography, particularly photography in Asia, has been a major interest in both my personal and professional life. Over the years I’ve noticed that there’s a huge pool of talented photographers in Asia that generally goes unnoticed outside their local country. I’ve also found that there is a great interest in Asia by photographers based outside the region. The purpose of this site, and my Twitter (@KanaKukui) is simple: 1) to share some insights about photography in Asia – introducing talented photographers shooting in Asia, and subjects and locations to shoot in the region. And 2) to provide a little inspiration to everyone interested in photography – from the hobbyist to the emerging professional.

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