The one penis not welcome at Japan’s Kanamara Matsuri. 

Every spring, thousands of tourists from Japan and overseas descend on a shrine in Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture of Kanagawa to celebrate one thing — the penis.

This symbol of fertility is at the centre of the Kanamara Matsuri (“Festival of the Steel Phallus”), which ranks as one of Japan’s “kisai” or “bizarre festivals“, and the story behind it is just as bizarre as the festival itself.

According to legend, a demon once sought revenge on a woman who rejected him by taking up residence inside her vagina and biting down on her husband’s penis so she was unable to procreate. In order to solve the problem, the woman paid a blacksmith to create a steel phallus to break the demon’s teeth, which he did, ultimately restoring her fertility.

Today, a replica of that phallus, and the spirit of the blacksmith, are preserved at the shrine, called Kanayama.

Every spring, the venerated items are taken out on mikoshi floats and paraded on the shoulders of worshippers during the Kanamara Matsuri.

You don’t just see giant phalluses at the festival — stallholders join the celebrations by selling all sorts of phallic goods, so you’re bound to see loads of penile paraphernalia in the area.

However, there is one penis that Kanayama Shrine wants to distance itself from, as it’s a mascot that many are mistakenly thinking is an official one related to the shrine. 

On 18 March, the shrine sent out a tweet on its official Twitter account to set the record straight, saying:

“As of March 2023, there are no official mascot characters for our Kanamara Festival. We do not officially recognise the costumed mascot called Gachachin, which is being treated as an official mascot on the Internet, in any way whatsoever. The maker of the costume performed without permission, but took the costume off in the end, so the shrine discarded it.”

With more than 50,000 people usually attending the festival, it’s easy for things to pop up within the crowd, and it appears that at least one person dressed in a penis costume so impressive that it confused people into thinking it was an official mascot related to the shrine.

The penis costume has been appearing since at least 2015, when the shrine sent out a similar tweet, alerting people to the fact that the character is in no way related to them. Part of the problem is the fact that the character bears a striking resemblance to Gachapin, a famous character from a children’s TV program on Fuji TV.

▼ Gachachin

▼ Gachapin

The name “Gachachin” is a play on “Gachapin”, with “pin” being replaced by” chin“, a slang word for penis.

▼ The only official giant penises at the festival are the ones carried on people’s shoulders.

So if you’re planning on attending the penis festival this year when it’s held on 2 April, remember to stay well away from any penis characters called Gachachin.

It might look like it’s an official mascot, but it’s a penis that’s actually bordering on copyright infringement, which, as we’ve learnt from the rise and fall of mascot character Chiitan, is a topic that people in Japan don’t take lightly.

Event information
Kanamara Festival / かなまら祭り
Kanayama Shrine, Wakamiya Hachimangu, 2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
Festival Date: Sunday, 2 April, 2023

Source: Twitter/@kanayamajinja via Net Lab
Photos © SoraNews24
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