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Festival of the Mighty Penis

The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The exact dates vary; the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April each year.

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On this day, thousands flood the streets of Kawasaki as festival-goers snap selfies while posing with phallus sculptures, wear phallic-shaped masks, buy various forms of penis memorabilia and suck on penis-shaped lollipops as the procession makes its way to the Kanayama Shrine for consecration.

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Since the festival started in 1969 it has become a major tourist attraction and is used to raise awareness about safe sex, fundraise for HIV research and celebrate fertility.

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Legend has it that around the 17th century, a jealous demon hid inside the vagina of a woman when his love was unrequited, biting off the penises of her first two husbands. Together the cursed woman and a blacksmith fashioned a steel penis to break the demon’s teeth and be rid of him forever.

Prostitutes would also reportedly pray to the Kanamara shrine for protection from sexually transmitted diseases. It is also said that the shrine offers divine protection for business prosperity, for the clan’s prosperity, and for easy delivery, marriage, and married-couple harmony.

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