Stop giggling. Countries around the world are known for their unique fertility rituals — just look at Victor Noir’s Grave in France or The Miracle Chair in Italy — but Japan celebrates with more vigor than the rest.

In certain places of worship, genitals — the male kind in particular — are a sign of prosperity and fruitfulness. Phallus-shaped talismans are prominent in these spots across Japan, but the real time for them to shine is at shrines’ or temples’ annual festivals.

These celebrations usually coincide with harvest and the start of spring. We’ve highlighted some of the biggest across the country.

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1. Kanamara “Penis Festival”

First Sunday of April each year
Kawasaki, Tokyo Prefecture

There’s one in each color. | Photo by iStock.com/Joshua Hawley

The most well-known and biggest (by popularity, not size) “penis festival” in Japan is the Kanamara Festival at Kanayama Shrine. Due to its closeness to Tokyo, it gets thousands of visitors each year, many of them tourists. Three phallic statues in the colors pink, brown, and black are paraded through the streets on portable shrines. There are also stalls upon stalls of interestingly shaped goods, sweets, and other treats.

The festival started only in the 1970s, but the shrine has a long history of genital worship and many have prayed there for recovery from sexually transmitted diseases, as well as marital harmony, smooth childbirth, and prosperity in business.

Fun fact: The name of the festival is a play on the Japanese word mara, which means male genitals. So instead of the shrine’s name, Kanayama, the festival is called Kanamara.

2. Tagata Shrine Hōnensai “Penis Festival”

March 15
Komaki, Aichi Prefecture

This phallus-shaped portable shrine is carved especially for the festival. | Photo by Aichi Prefecture

During the Hōnensai (Harvest) Festival at Tagata Shrine, a large phallic statue is laid on its side and paraded around town. The statue is carved fresh from a Japanese cypress tree eight days before the festival each year, and usually reaches an impressive 2 meters in length.

There are also women holding small offerings and stalls selling products in the statue’s likeness. Thousands of rice cakes are scattered for visitors. The purpose of the festival is to pray for a rich harvest, and it has been held since the Edo period, although on a smaller scale than today.

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3. Dontsuku “Penis Festival”

Late September
Inatori Onsen, Shizuoka Prefecture

Stay up late at the Dontsuku Festival. | Photo by Site Plus Co., Ltd. via PR Times

One of the only festivals on this list to take place in autumn, the Dontsuku Festival finishes with a bang — a fireworks display over the water. There are several sizes of phallic statues shown off to the masses, including one that’s a whopping 4.2 meters long. You can look forward to a lively atmosphere on the streets, plus performances such as taiko drumming. The party goes on into the night.

The aim is to encourage prosperity for descendants, and make other fertility-related wishes.

4. Gonbo Fertility Festival

February 11
Tsu, Mie Prefecture

Watch the union of two statues at the Gonbo Fertility Festival. This is a serious event with a lot of rituals and history behind it. The god of mining, blacksmithing, metals, and (unofficially) sex is worshipped at the local shrine, and every year on February 11, there is a festival that fits the theme.

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A phallic wooden statue, along with two portable shrines with statues representing female and male genitalia, are brought out. The male is made of cedar wood and the female is made of straw. Both statues circle around until the climax — when they finally join together.

5. Hodare “Penis Festival”

Second Sunday of March each year
Shimoraiden, Niigata Prefecture

The Hodare “Penis Festival” also involves a phallic statue, but what makes it different is the addition of women riding atop. The statue, called Hodare, is carried lengthways around the town while three newlywed women who’ve been married less than a year sit on top. It weighs 600 kg — not exactly light — and stretches more than 2 meters.

This small, local event has rituals before the main parade, and honors fertility in all its forms.

6. Noboribetsu Onsen Festival

February 3 to 4
Noboribetsu, Hokkaido

Men in fundoshi battle at the Noboribetsu Naked man Festival
Red team wins! | Photo by John Daub

The Noboribetsu Onsen Festival is more well known for its men in loin cloths than its phallic imagery, but you’ll be happy to know that a phallus-shaped portable shrine does make an appearance.

The whole festival is conducted to pray for good luck and health in the town. It starts with a ritual mochi-pounding dance to promote child-rearing, before launching into a 100-men battle with hot water. Once a team emerges victorious, a large portable Shinto shrine resembling the male form is carried in — there to help the town’s population prosper.

Read more about what happens in our detailed Noboribetsu Onsen Festival guide (with video).

Other genital-loving celebrations

Photo by Getty Images

If you’re not satisfied, here’s some more:

  • Oagata Shrine Harvest Festival: This festival is a little more subtle. The parade includes a face with a mouth resembling a certain female organ.
  • Sado’s Great Kagura Bugaku: This is a type of traditional folk dance that involves the use of long, wooden phallic objects. The dance is held during numerous festivals around Sado City.
  • Shinjo Hassaku Festival: A tengu demon with a sharp “stick” chases women and pokes them. A poke from the divine stick means you’ll be blessed with children.

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