- Title: JAPAN: Festival in Japan celebrates fertility with giant phalluses
- Date: 5th April 2010
- Summary: KAWASAKI, JAPAN (APRIL 4, 2010) (REUTERS) CROWDS OUTSIDE OF KANAYAMA SHRINE VISITORS WALKING AROUND PORTABLE PHALLIC SHRINES AMERICAN TOURISTS HAVING PICTURE TAKEN IN FRONT OF PHALLIC SHRINE TOURISTS HAVING PICTURE TAKEN IN FRONT OF PHALLIC SHRINE WOODEN PLATES WITH PRAYERS WRITTEN ON THEM WOODEN PLATE TO BE BURNED WITH PRAYER FOR LUCK IN CHILD-REARING WRITTEN ON IT HIROYUKI NAKAMURA, 30-YEAR-OLD PRIEST AT SHRINE, FANNING FIRES TO BURN WOODEN PLATES WITH PRAYERS WRITTEN ON THEM (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) HIROYUKI NAKAMURA, 30-YEAR-OLD PRIEST AT SHRINE, SAYING: "As this shrine's god is worshipped in order to help cure diseases of the lower half of the body, it is also a god that can help in the fight against AIDS." PAN: KANAYAMA TEMPLE AND PEOPLE GATHERED AROUND PHALLIC SHRINES AND SHOPS TOURISTS POSING IN FRONT OF PINK SHRINE VISITORS TAKING PICTURES OF SHRINES CROSS-DRESSING MAN POSING IN FRONT OF PINK PHALLIC SHRINE COUPLE HAVING PICTURE TAKEN IN FRONT OF PINK PHALLIC SHRINE (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDRE DEDIOS, 33-YEAR-OLD MANUFACTURING TECHNICIAN WORKING IN THE US, SAYING: "I think it's a great experience, I haven't really seen anything like anywhere in the world. Anywhere actually. So it's very unique, as far as I know and that's why I'm excited as well to come here." VISITORS GATHERED AROUND PORTABLE PHALLIC SHRINES (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) SAKURA WATANABE, 22-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE STUDENT, SAYING: "When I looked it up on the Internet, I found out that this was a famous festival and figured that I'd like to go and see it for myself. Plus, it becomes a great conversation topic." TOURIST SITTING ON TOP OF WOODEN PHALLUS TOURIST RIDING ON TOP OF WOODEN PHALLUS AND PRETENDING TO KISS IT PORTABLE PINK PHALLIC SHRINE BEING LIFTED BY CROSS-DRESSING MEN PINK PHALLIC SHRINE BEING CARRIED AS CROSS-DRESSING PARTICIPANTS SHOUT "GIANT PENIS! GOLDEN PENIS!" PHALLIC SHRINE BEING CARRIED DOWN STREET PINK PHALLIC SHRINE BEING CARRIED OUT OF SHRINE AS HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE GATHER TO TAKE PICTURES CROSS-DRESSING SHRINE CARRIER SHOUTING "GIANT PENIS! GOLDEN PENIS!" AS THEY TAKE SHRINE THROUGH STREET MORE OF CARRIERS SHOUTING PINK PHALLIC SHRINE BEING CARRIED DOWN SHOPPING STREET MORE OF PINK PHALLIC SHRINE BEING CARRIED DOWN SHOPPING STREET AS PEOPLE TAKE PICTURES
- Embargoed: 20th April 2010 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA4C4SFKM3D1WEJIO9PCVXQT30Q
- Story Text: Japanese festival draws thousands to celebrate fertility by marching giant phallic symbols through the streets.
Thousands of Japanese and foreign tourists took part in a centuries-old fertility festival on the outskirts of Tokyo on Sunday (April 4), with raunchy symbols being paraded down public streets.
The festival began over 300 years ago after ladies of the night at the way station that existed in the area at the time prayed for protection against a syphilis epidemic, with elements of the festival having roots in ceremonies that date back to before Buddhism even entered Japan.
In modern times, the festival is held for those praying for such things as easy delivery of children, marriage or harmony between partners, according to a pamphlet handed out to visitors, although the festival has taken on an additional meanings according to Hiroyuki Nakamura, a 30-year-old priest at the Kanayama temple.
"As this shrine's god is worshipped in order to help cure diseases of the lower half of the body, it is also a god that can help in the fight against AIDS." Nakamura explained.
In recent years, thanks in part to the internet, the number of foreign visitors to the annual event has exploded, with close to half of the visitors coming from overseas to take photos with the giant phalluses and indulge in the penis-shaped snacks for sale.
"I think it's a great experience, I haven't really seen anything like anywhere in the world. Anywhere actually. So it's very unique, as far as I know and that's why I'm excited as well to come here," explained 33-year-old manufacturing technician Andre Dedios who was visiting from the United States and came to see the festival.
The internet also helped bring Japanese visitors such as 22-year-old Sakura Watanabe, who was invited by a friend and learned about the festival through the internet.
"When I looked it up on the Internet, I found out that this was a famous festival and figured that I'd like to go and see it for myself. Plus, it becomes a great conversation topic," Watanabe told Reuters.
At the center of the festivities are three shrines shaped like giant phalluses that are then carried by participants through the streets.
Of the three portable shrines, the pink "Elizabeth" shrine was carried by a group of volunteers who use the festival as a event to cross-dress and enjoy themselves while carrying the shrine through the local shopping streets.
Festivals that include elements of phallic worship are still somewhat common in Japan and are observed in shrines throughout the country, especially around this time of year.
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