You contend festival, you consider Glastonbury. Wilderness. Glitter on your face, flowers in your hair and drink on your breath.
Unless you are in Japan in April, in which case your first suspicion is substantially about hulk penises.
For the Japanese, open marks the jubilee of Shinto Kanamra Matsuri, differently famous as The Festival Of The Steel Phallus.
The day-long festival takes place on the first Sunday of Apr at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, a city just south of Tokyo.
The place is deluged by tens of thousands of locals and tourists alike, who group from around the universe to compensate loyalty to the male appendage.
And because not? It’s flattering good – and the Japanese know how to make the many of it.
There are penises everywhere.
People wearing penis T-shirts, penis necklaces, penis comedy eyeglasses where the nose has been replaced for – wait for it – a penis.
There are candles, ceramics and pivotal rings, all for consequence in the figure of penises.
And peckish revelers can select from a horde of phallic food, from chocolate-coated bananas to penis-shaped duck skewers.
Almost everywhere you demeanour there are people sucking on rainbow-hued penis lollipops like it’s the world’s biggest hen do.
But while today’s celebrations are dictated to be lighthearted, the festival has a critical side that derives from centuries-old tradition.
Demons, prayers and priests: the story of Japan’s penis festival
Kanamra Matsuri dates back to the Edo duration in the 17th Century.
The fable tells of a lady whose vagina was inhabited by a sharp-toothed demon after she spurned its advances.
When the immature lady came to have sex again, the demon bit off the penises of her two uninterrupted lovers, leaving her with only one choice: to find a blacksmith who would create a steel phallus that could destroy the demon.
The festival also has a sold organisation with Kawasaki. In the 16th century the city was a categorical rest stop for travelers who stopped off to eat, nap and rivet with prostitutes.
The sex workers would revisit the Kanayama tabernacle to urge for insurance against sexually transmitted diseases.
An early chronicle of the festival was even held there but its recognition waned during the 1800s.
It was only in the 1970s that the festival perceived a new franchise of life interjection to Hirohiko Nakamura, the obligatory clergyman at the time.
It was held at night and captivated only a handful of participants, but over the last 4 decades Kanamura Matsuri has grown in reputation and now attracts visitors from opposite the creation – approximately 50,000 visitors arrived to applaud the 2017 festival on Apr 3.
The complicated Kanamura Matsuri is a pro-LGBT eventuality about fertility, directed at teaching protected sex practices and lifting supports for HIV/Aids prevention.
Newlyweds attend to urge for children in their matrimony and the tabernacle is a year-round end for desolate couples that are anticipating for a miracle.
Speaking to The Independent, Kimiko Nakamura, former arch priestess at the tabernacle stressed its thorough inlet and certain LGBT message.
She said: ‘Officials who hoop human rights from City Hall have come to the festival and handed out pamphlets, compelling this festival as a LGBT-positive, non-discriminatory event.
‘This eventuality has deep, far-reaching roots in that kind of thinking, and we don’t wish anybody to take it another way.
‘We consider that there should be no taste against anybody, including LGBT people. Anybody should be means to come to this festival and enjoy it.’
The penis parade
The highpoint of the Kanamura Matsuri is a march that kicks off around noon and snakes its way by the town.
Crowds line the streets, jostling to get a glimpse of the 3 hulk penises that are ecstatic high above the crowds on mikoshi (portable shrines).
The tabernacle bearers take their role seriously, singing and chanting as they wobble their way along the thoroughfare.
Despite the festival’s name, only one of the penises is done from steel in a gleaming, black finish.
The second is done in a some-more normal character and forged out of wood.
The third is pink, plastic and shouldered with coolness by cross-dressing Japanese men in glamorous wigs and charming make-up.
It’s utterly the crowd-pleaser.
‘Go just to contend you’ve been’
Kanamra Matsuri is fun, devious and overt; visitors of all ages are speedy to join in, poise for photos and generally be happy (it’s utterly a boozy affair).
It is tempting, then, to pass it off as a bit of a novelty, another instance of Japan’s ‘kooky’ cocktail enlightenment and the nation’s complex proceed to sex
But it has its roots in enlightenment and mythology and a progressive, certain summary at its heart.
In short, it’s not the kind of festival one encounters every day. So what is it like to go?
Emmie, from Australia, said:
‘We took the sight from Tokyo, which is only about 20 mins but we wish we hadn’t bothered, it wasn’t worth the time or income we spent on sight tickets.
‘The tabernacle is right next to a preschool, which is weird. Our first half hour was all right, there was utterly a good atmosphere and it was cold seeing the floats go past.
‘But it was really noisy, loads of people were dipsomaniac and all the foreigners were shouting at all like kids.
‘It is utterly humorous and it’s ostensible to be upbeat, but they didn’t pull the story and people didn’t get that it was lifting recognition of HIV and STDs.’
Olly, from Kent, said:
‘I wasn’t certain what to design but we went with a crony while we were travelling around and we had a good time.
‘Japan has a flattering closed-off opinion to sex so it’s cold to see people get into the suggestion of it, and the locals and tourists were all churned together.
‘The tabernacle is flattering tiny so it gets really busy, but it adds to the atmosphere.
‘All the penis food is hilarious; you have to see it to trust it. We only went for a few hours but it done a good story when we go back. we would contend go just to contend you’ve been.’