Each spring, people flock to Kawasaki, Japan, to celebrate Kanamara Matsuri, aka the “Festival of the Steel Phallus.”
Held this year on April 6, the festival was a celebration of the penis and fertility. People parade gigantic phallic-shaped mikoshi (portable Shinto shrines) down the streets during the event, as revelers suck on penis lollipops, buy penis-themed memorabilia and pose with sculptures in the shape of — you guessed it — penises.
According to the BBC, the festival is believed to have roots in the 17th century, when prostitutes are said to have prayed for protection from sexually transmitted infections at Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine.
Today, the festival reportedly raises awareness about safe sex practices and fundraises for HIV prevention.
- Women pose for a photograph as they munch on phallic-shaped lollipops.
- A man buys a phallic-shaped candle at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine.
- People sing and dance as they carry a large black phallic-shaped mikoshi through the streets.
- A woman poses for photographers as she straddles a large wooden phallic sculpture.
- A woman wears a phallic-shaped mask as friends eat phallic-shaped lollipops at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine
- People gathered at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine during Kanamara Matsuri.
All photos: Chris McGrath/Getty Images