Yearly on the primary Sunday of April in Kawasaki, Japan, one may cross paths with a peculiar sight — a succession of huge erect penises parading down the road beneath the energy of males in conventional feminine garb.
This 12 months, photographer B.A. Van Sise was in attendance of the annual Pageant of the Metal Phallus, a regional custom relationship again to the 17th century that right this moment serves as a platform for the good thing about HIV analysis. Right here, Van Sise shares his expertise and a few of the historical past behind what is probably probably the most phallic pageant on the earth.
Early April in Kawasaki, Japan, is put aside for the Kanamara Matsuri, or the pageant of the metal phallus, wherein 100 thousand revelers come right here to rejoice one factor: the male organ. Dwelling to the Kanayama Jinja Shrine, Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo, has been intently tied to the male anatomy for hundreds of years, attributable to a persistent native legend, so its famed Shinto shrine to the relic of a metal phallus was, effectively, erected.
Legend holds jealous, red-faced, sharped-tooth demon hid within the vagina of a goddess after which bit off, to their nice shock, the penises of her first two husbands. Historical past forgets to say why she didn’t warn the second man.
Lastly a 3rd, extra decided suitor, a blacksmith, created an iron phallus that broke the demon’s enamel; the person gained over the gorgeous lady whereas the demon presumably returned again to the ether to obtain fairly the lecture from his orthodontist.
The shrine is humble however has stood the take a look at of time. Made from outdated stone and boasting a small however fairly community of conventional orange torii gates, it was in-built roughly 698 CE — however is now extra famously residence to the pageant — in prim and correct Japan, an uncommon however charming celebration of the sacred and the profane.
Whereas superbly frocked Shinto clergymen within the shrine rejoice the thousands-year-old god, lengthy worshiped by prostitutes fearing illness and pilgrims apprehensive for his or her fertility, a distinct form of celebration is happening exterior, as tens, if not tons of of hundreds of partiers take to the streets.
Revelers carry penis lollipops (humorous to take a look at, however not notably tasty), phallic greens, and sufficient whimsical toys to inventory a 12 months’s price of Las Vegas bachelorette events. They take pleasure in all of them whereas snapping not-quite-ready-for-Instagram selfies and watching a parade of all of Kawasaki’s manliest males, struggling to hold a bunch of big junk by the road.
Native households and companies work for months to make the big genitals carried on the shoulders of groups of males by Kawasaki’s tight streets. Three, in complete, are carried round city; two are of metallic and one, true to Japan’s modern anime-loving tradition, is of the cheery, bubblegum-hued cartoon selection, and lofted by 18 fellows sporting glitter and unbelievable make-up.
For the prudish, it is likely to be laborious to see, nevertheless it does have its advantages: Nowadays, gross sales from the pageant — penis clothes, sweet, meals, toys — rake in gobs of cash yearly, put duly to work towards HIV analysis.
This 12 months marks a half century for the pageant in its fashionable kind. Guests desirous to see it themselves, and unafraid to face the throbbing plenty, could make it to Kawasaki from Tokyo in a straightforward day journey on the primary Sunday of April, any 12 months, and see for themselves the large phalluses of Kawasaki — and the various males who get them up.