★ Special Episode ★ This festival will next be held on Sunday, April 5 2020. Here’s a preview with all the background you’ll need.
Japan’s Kanamara Matsuri as you’ve never seen it before!
Every now and then something very bizarre from Japan pops up in the news. This time, it happens to be bright pink and carried around the streets of a town near Tokyo. The Kanamara Matsuri / Festival is definitely unusual but there is much more to this story including a strong historical backbone and religious significance.
So – WHY #JAPAN ?!?! WHY ?!?
The international media sees the images and write the stories but never ask the questions. Let me do that for you in this episode.
The festival sometimes dubbed the “Penis” festival or the “Utamaro Festival” has a long history going back 200 years.
It was created by a transgender salon in Asakusa called Elizabeth who wanted to bring attention to the issue of STD, HIV / AIDS and the LGBT community. They succeeded in getting a lot of attention but over the last several years, the message has gotten lost in the shock and — bright pink of their hand made phallus. Whatever you may think about Elizabeth, there is no doubt that it is the most photographed mikoshi in Japan!
Kanamara #Shrine is dedicated to both fertility and a place for prayer for women afflicted by sexual diseases. It’s a place women go to today to pray to get pregnant and for a healthy child.
Those who have been unfortunate to contract a STD have been coming here for centuries. The priests approach those afflicted with a lot of compassion. Kanamara Shrine is certainly one that opens its arms to anyone and everyone who is suffering and that compassion is admirable.
In recent years, the worldwide media attention has been overwhelming skewed on the “weird” and the Kanamara Matsuri has become something of a joke and embarrassment in many Japanese eyes. I really hope that this episode can help shed light on the cultural, historical and religious significance of this festival in Japan today. It’s more than a gag, a comedy piece.
Parental Guidance suggested:
Because viewers of the shows come from all different backgrounds and ages, I highly recommend anyone under 13 have a parent watch with them. There are no actual body parts shown but I know the material is sensitive for parents; and parents should be the ones making the decision if this should be seen or not. I added a rating at the opening for this purpose.
Where is Kanamara Shrine?
Here’s a Google Map:
Address: 2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture 210-0802
How to get to the Kanamara Matsuri:
Station: Kawasakidaishi Station / 川崎大師
Take the JR LINE to Kawasaki Station then change to the Keikyu Dashi Line, a 50 meter walk from JR. Take the train 3 stops, 140 Yen.
The Unicycle Crew #136
64 Sundays by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (
The video has the STANDARD YOUTUBE LICENSE and is not Creative Commons. ONLY in JAPAN is a registered trademark. All rights reserved 2019.
This show has been created and produced by John Daub ジョン・ドーブ. He’s been living and working in Japan for over 21 years and regularly reports on TV for Japan’s International Channel.