Spring in Japan means the blooming of cherry blossoms, and also… the annual penis festival. The latter takes place on the first Sunday of every April and is just as phallic as it sounds.
Thousands flooded the streets of Kawasaki, Japan, to take part in the Kanamara Matsuri – the Festival of the Steel Phallus – in which giant steel phalluses are paraded through huge crowds on portable shrines.
Festival-goers snap selfies with penis sculptures, buy various forms of penis memorabilia and suck on penis-shaped lollipops as the procession makes it way to the Kanayama Shrine for consecration.
Since the festival started in 1969 it has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and used to raise awareness about safe sex, fundraise for HIV research and celebrate fertility.
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 rid him forever.
Prostitutes would also reportedly pray to the Kanamara shrine for protection from sexually transmitted diseases.