Written By Taylor Tash
Hipster Adventures Abroad: A Monkey, Hula Dancers and an Enormous Penis
In the heart of Kawasaki, a city located twenty miles south of Tokyo, sits an ancient Shinto shrine called Kanayama. It is world-renowned as a consecrated sanctuary dedicated to fertility and in contemporary times is known for its charity drives to help find a cure for HIV. Every first Sunday in April, a holy festival known as Kanamara Matsuri begins on the hallowed grounds of the Kanayama Shrine before venturing out unto the streets of Kawasaki to be witnessed by throngs of adoring spectators. In other words, a bunch of giant penises are paraded around the Japanese equivalent to New Jersey.
Yesterday I attended Cockfest 2013. Freaks and foreigners came out of the woodwork to suck on lollipops in the shape of both male and female sex organs and get photographed with a giant pink dong, the celebration’s centerpiece, while making a wide array of lewd gestures towards it. The shrine, where the pink pistol and a smaller black version are housed throughout the year, was decorated around the perimeter with several flying banners covered in rudimentary sketches of phalluses that could be seen from a few blocks away. Kiosks littered the shrine’s grounds, and one of the only booths offering food that I came across was appropriately serving hot dogs. Bobby Darin’s rendition of ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ blasted from the booth and hanging above it was a sign that read ‘Lady Gaga’s Favorite.’ Why the proprietors thought this sign was necessary I’ll never know due to the language barrier, but I suppose it’s apropos to heed her suggestions during a celebration of schwing-schwongs, since we the masses still haven’t received conclusive proof whether or not she has one herself. The most entertaining of all the souvenir booths featured an elderly man selling sets of plastic Groucho Marx-type glasses with a large member attached to cover the nose while wearing one himself. I noticed a lot of festival-goers sporting these dickfaces, which really added to the spiritual vibe of this ancient and sacred tradition.
Amplified ukulele music sounded from one corner of the festival as several hula girls undulated out a dance which regrettably seemed to have nothing to do with wieners, while a large crowd gathered around women in kimonos who without a shred of enthusiasm or irony carved daikon radishes into phallic shapes. A young man chattered into a headset mic while an exhausted-looking monkey wearing shorts and a t-shirt performed tricks for a kneeling horde poised with digital cameras. Some locals actually prayed to the shrine, which provided a stark contrast to the majority of the patrons who swilled their beers and shouted out sex euphemisms as loud as they could. Never has the east-west dichotomy seemed more blatant or bizarre.
Finally, after several loud whistle blows from the disaffected police officers assigned to crowd control duties, the streets were cleared for the procession of penises to begin. The black cock came out of the shrine first, by being hoisted up onto the shoulders of several men in kimonos so short their ass cheeks were nearly hanging out. The boner-bearers chanted as they worked together to make it bob up and down, and the crowd pushed their way towards the front to get a better look. I was secretly terrified I would somehow get trampled in the scuffle, but I must admit, being killed by a mob frantically trying to get a better view of a big black baby maker would be a pretty rad way to go. The pink one came out next on the shoulders of several brawny drag queens, and they too chanted a mantra I can only assume was making some kind of reference to beef injections. The flurry of pastel kimonos eventually snaked its way down the street and out of eyesight to greet the rest of Kawasaki.
To anyone who aspires to one day visit Japan, go in April for the Kanamara Matsuri festival. It’s unlike anything you can encounter anywhere else, since it’s simultaneously a cultural lesson and a party reminiscent of an installment of Girls Gone Wild. Being in the midst of it is truly a ‘WTF’ moment that must be experienced to be believed.