It’s penis season in Japan!

Yes, on the first Sunday in April, the Japanese city of Kawasaki will be overrun by bellends – and not because they’ve opened a new branch of the Hub* but because it’s time for the annual Kanamara Matsuri festival (かなまら祭り) which celebrates all things phallic.

There will be penis lollies, penis hats, penis face masks, penises carved out of radishes and even some fish/sake combo available for your refreshment which apparently tastes just like semen. Mmmm. They also carry portable penis shrines through the streets, stopping occasionally to cheer.

Check out these photos (which I didnt't take):

Still think you’re big in Japan?

And I heard the birthrate was down here.

Yup, it looks like the perfect place to take a date. Which is exactly what I did last year.

Fresh off the plane and eager to meet the natives, I started chatting to a lovely young lady on Tinder whose name I shall not print here for privacy reasons (and because I’ve forgotten it). My new co-workers were already planning to attend the festival in the morning, so I suggested she come along too for the afternoon and hang out with us. What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, my new colleagues could handle less dick than I anticipated and left shortly after they’d taken a few photos and seen the hour-long queue for the penis lollies. I then went to meet my date at the station, thinking that this would either be a story to tell the grandkids, a less than subtle hint of my intentions, or at least an amusing way to salvage an awkward first encounter.

What happened?

Honestly, not much. She was quite blasé about there being cocks everywhere as I suppose you would be if you went to the festival every year. I mean I hardly get excited about Easter anymore. We had a look around, she bought some lollies for her mum and gran (!) and we arranged to meet the following week in Tokyo for lunch. It was very civilised. Sorry to disappoint you – have a history lesson instead:

The event’s name translates as ‘festival of the steel phallus’. Legend has it that back in the Edo period, there was a demon who fell in love with a woman but as usually happens, felt a bit rejected when she married another man. Rather than going out to drink with his friends like I would, he instead decided to inhabit the poor girl’s vagina and bite off her groom’s penis on their wedding night. Everybody deals with their issues in their own way.

After her true love was castrated, the woman remarried and of course the demon pulled the same stunt a second time. Around this point, the other men in the village were feeling a bit uneasy and hatched a plan to sort the bugger out once and for all. A local blacksmith forged a steel phallus, inserted it into the (presumably consenting) lady, and when the demon tried to munch on it, all his teeth snapped off. Dental care back then was rubbish, so the demon left the woman’s vagina and didn’t come back. Woo!

Some time later, the steel phallus was enshrined at the Kanayama shrine in Kawasaki, which then became a popular place for prostitutes to visit and pray for protection against STIs. Nowadays, it’s more common to go there to pray for general fertility related requests, such as starting a new family and childbirth. According to Wikipedia, the festival started in 1977 and has been getting bigger and bigger every year since then. Lol.

So yeah, perfect place for a Tinder date, right? Before you start swiping, here’s the info you need to get there:

Date: The first Sunday of April. In 2016, that’s the 3rd.

Time: 9am. Parade starts at lunchtime – get there early if you want to buy a lolly.

Place: Kawasaki Daishi on the Keikyu Daishi line. Head towards the south exit. Or just follow the crowds.

Price: free!

*The Hub is a chain of ‘British’ pubs frequented by gruff expats, military dudes and malcontent English teachers. Plus a few Japanese who want to observe and/or sleep with them.

Also I go there sometimes.

Photo credit: Hector Ratia, elmimmo, Guilhem Vellut, Ikusuki, Masayuki Kawagishi