Japan’s annual penis festival was amazing
A penis festival in Japan has once again attracted tens of thousands of visitors who took to the streets with penis lollipops, noses, signs and headwear – along with a huge ceremonial phallus.
The Kanamara festival is celebrated on the first Sunday of April in Kawasaki – a city between Tokyo and Yokohama on the largest Japanese island of Honshu – and raises money for HIV research.
First held in 1969, the celebratory march takes place at the Kanayama Shrine to pay tribute to the legend of the steel phallus.
The 17th-century tale of death and the supernatural describes a demon hiding inside the vagina of a woman he loved but could never be with.
After the creature had bitten her first two husbands’ penises off, the woman enlisted a blacksmith’s help to create a metal dildo.
After the sex toy was thrust inside the woman, her demon bit down, broke its teeth, and was vanquished.
In honour of the story, a three-foot steel phallus can now be found in the shrine’s courtyard.
Prostitutes have traditionally approached the statue with prayers against sexually transmitted infections.
And the festival which sprung from the legend, held this year on April 1, is a glorious, good-natured celebration of the penis.
Earlier this week, same-sex couples living in Fukuoka, a Japanese city of 1.5 million people, were able for the first time to have their partnerships recognised by law.
The city, on the northern coast of the island of Kyushu, was the second-biggest in the country to recognise same-sex partners.
Last year, Sapporo became the first major city in Japan to issue official partnership vow papers to those who wish to enter a legal same-sex union.
Seven cities and wards in the country have now legalised same-sex partnerships.
In January, the Japanese Government ordered hoteliers to stop discriminating against LGBT+ guests. The Ministry of Health reminded hotels that refusing guests because of their sexuality or gender identity would breach anti-discrimination laws.
Last year, it was revealed that children in Japan will not be taught about LGBT issues for at least 10 years after the government decided against including it in the curriculum.
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But a record number of people attended Tokyo Pride, following a series of steps towards LGBT equality in the country.
For the first time last year, the country legislated to protect against bullying based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The country has seen its first trans man elected into public office, as Tomoya Hosoda was voted in as a councillor in the city of Iruma.
And a city in Japan became the first to recognise a first same-sex couple as foster parents, last year, with a gay couple in Osaka officially fostering a teenage boy.