Monday, April 7, 2014

Dick-Swinging Contest

Yes, I was devastated that I wasn't getting to visit the Ghibli Museum - BUT (I later reasoned with myself) that was not the reason I came to Tokyo this spring break.  (Hey - this is where I take a moment and warn you - it's about to get a little NSFW.  You've read enough of my blogs to know where this is going...)

Nope.  As (almost) always, my raison d'etre in traveling was the almighty cock (wow, that makes me sound a lot more interesting than I am).  It's been three years since I heard about the Kanamara Matsuri - a penis festival held in Kawasaki - but it took until now for me to make it here.  I wish I could have managed it a few years back - it gets bigger every year (heheheh) and more packed with douchebag foreigners (of which, admittedly, I am one).  In fact, on the last train to Kawasaki from Haneda airport Saturday night, there were several such foreigners sitting across from me.  They were talking about how early they'd had to get up that morning.  4 a.m. in Bangkok, you say?  Bitch, please.  I woke up at 4:30 the morning BEFORE in UlaanbaFREAKINGtar, taught a full day of classes, judged a talent show, chaperoned movie night, cleaned my apartment, took a red-eye to Seoul AND showed friends around my old digs all day.  Talk to me when you've reached expert level 99.

(I kind of hate travel bloggers.  This is possibly jealousy talking, but I do.  Oh, your life's so hard, traveling all the time.  Boo hoo.  I like my way better - and they would too if they had my awesome job.  Birdwalk rant complete.)
Would I trust these two to grill my sausage?  Yes, yes I would.
Speaking of travel bloggers, they've all written more than enough about the legend of the big steel wong and how the proceeds from the festival support AIDS research.  That's great and all, but it's been done.  So let me answer a few questions for you...

"Is this festival appropriate for children?"

Absolutely.  I saw kids of all ages enjoying the Kanamara Matsuri, from children to teenagers.  The lollipops (lollicocks?) were an especially big hit with them.  Leaving the festival I saw a group of teenagers all sucking them together, but I've got to say, I think this young chap embodies the spirit of the festival best.  There's even a just happens to involve huge phalli on the "floats," swinging and swaying through the crowds.

Seriously, though - it's Japan.  On the one hand, they wear their crazy out for all the world to see; this is the country that brought us hentai (if you don't know what that is, PLEASE don't google it!), anime pillows, and used panty dispensers, after all.  On the other, nudity's not really as big a deal here as it is in the represssed West.  In some ways, I think it's a lot healthier, mentally, to be open about sexuality.  Just food - or candy - for thought.
"How should I dress for the Kanamara Matsuri?"
In your bathhouse finest, of course!  For years this shrine was kept alive by prostitutes who would come and pray for protection against STDs (dammit, I said I wasn't going to go into the history!  Oh, well.)  Although public bathing is not sketchy here, there IS a tie between sex workers and bathhouses, and I would conjecture that this is where the short cotton kimono comes into the festival.  If you don't own one, you can, of course, come wearing (or not wearing!) whatever you like.  I had a great picture of cosplay princesses that I accidentally deleted, and I saw people wearing all sorts of stuff - the young lady pictured below was wearing a pleather catsuit with the butt cut out to show off the cute little thong she had on.  Personally I wore a low-cut top with a little sweater - I was going for pin-uppy cute.
"Will there be any food besides"
Of course!  What's a festival without food?  This lady, for example, has a couple of daikon radishes - which just happen to have been part of a carving contest (I didn't make it over to the contest - it was REALLY crowded and there came a point, between this and the impending parade, that I literally couldn't move).  One vendor had sausages for sale (could there BE a better food for a penis festival???) and another had shawarma.  So you can eat and the kiddos don't have to be hopped up on sugar all day.
"What other activities will take place during the festival?"
If a parade where giant penises are carried through the streets by tranvestites and a contest to see who can carve the best radish phallus aren't enough for you, there's shopping, a mask contest (I didn't stay for that one), and even traditional dancing...which you will have to check out later, because apparently I can't access my phone through this computer.

I'm at the end of this post, and I haven't made nearly enough penis jokes.  If you want someone to blame, blame my students.  One of them did some ace detective work (ie, looked me up on facebook) and found my blog.  If the fact that I wouldn't mind Robert Downey Jr. tackling me (there was context, I promise!) makes me a pervert (haha, kids, the joke's on you - wanting to be tackled by RDJ makes me completely normal as a grown woman!), I can only imagine what they'd think if they read this.  If it goes away for the next few days until it's buried under a few other posts, don't be surprised.

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