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Kanamara Matsuri 2014: What You Should Know About Japan's Penis Festival (NSFW PHOTOS)

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KANAMARA MATSURI
A woman poses for photographers as she sits on a large wooden phallic sculpture during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan. | Chris McGrath via Getty Images

It's not often you come across a parade where the main attraction is a pink penis statue.

That is unless you're attending Kanamara Matsuri or, Japan's Penis Festival, as it's more commonly known as by tourists.

For the uninitiated, the idea of a festival dedicated to all things phallic can be a bit of a visual overload. So to help, we've broken things down to a few tips to understand that behind giant penis statues, there's a good cause and a strong cultural following that's kept things going since the 16th century.

So, if you find yourself in the Kawasaki, Japan and you're wondering what's going on, know these things:

  • 1
    First Thing's First: When Is It?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Well, you're a little late to the game, friend. Kanamara Matsuri takes place on the first Sunday of April, meaning 2014's shindig is already over. If you're still interested in attending by the end of this article then you can try your hand on Sunday, April 5, 2015 or Sunday, April 3, 2016.
    People sing and dance as they carry a large black phallic-shaped 'Mikoshi' through the streets during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 2
    I'll Think About It. What's The Deal With All The Phallic Items?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Penis statues, candles, lollipops and masks are just some of the novelty goods you'll come across during the festival. The penis dates back to a Japanese myth that involving a blacksmith, a demon and a young woman. It's said that the demon tried to woo the young woman but when she refused its advances, it figured that if it can't have her, no man could and possessed her vagina.
    A man buys a phallic-shaped candle at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 3
    Say Again?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Yeah, it took over her vagina and gave it teeth. The young woman tried to move on her with life, get married and start a family but the demon wasn't done tormenting her. When her first two fiancées tried to have sex with her, the demon bit off their penises.
    People pose for a photo as they eat phallic-shaped candy lollipops during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 4
    Ouch. So Where The Blacksmith Come In?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Well, the young woman needed help, so she turned to a local blacksmith who came up with a plan. He was going to de-teeth her vagina with a steel penis. The young woman went along with the plan and when the demon went to bite down on the steel phallus, it shattered its teeth. As a result, the demon fled and left the young woman to carry on with her life. Or so the story goes.
    A woman wears a phallic-shaped mask as friends eat phallic-shaped lollipops at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 5
    That's... Quite A Story. So That Would Explain The Penis Statues?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Yes. The tradition carries over to celebrate the demon's banishment with three penis altars called Mikoshi,: one made out of wood, one pink (it's a gift from a group of drag queens) and one made out of steel. The altars are carried down a route to a special temple.
    A large pink phallic-shaped 'Mikoshi' is paraded through the streets during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 6
    Tell Me About This Temple
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    The Kanayama shrine has a special significance in the festival's history. It's said that prostitutes would gather outside the shrine to pray for good business and protection from diseases while they went to work. Today, the shrine and the festival is focused on gathering money and awareness for HIV/ AIDS research.
    A general view as people pose for photos in front of a large pink phallic-shaped 'Mikoshi' at the Wakamiya Hachimangu shrine during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 7
    Okay, So Is This An 18+ Event Or What?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Not at all. Kids, families, foreigners and locals can all attend. Remember: the festival isn't a meant for debauchery, it's mean to for people to have fun and let loose. Despite its graphic images, the atmosphere is one of joy and respect. So just remember one thing...
    A large pink phallic-shaped 'Mikoshi' is paraded through the streets during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
  • 8
    Remember What?
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images
    Have fun! The festival is a fine example of a time for the Japanese to break free from their perception of stern, serious and focused on work. So let loose and have a penis lollipop for goodness sake.
    A man poses for photographers with a large wooden phallic sculpture during Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) on April 6, 2014 in Kawasaki, Japan.
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Kanamara Matsuri: Japan's Penis Festival (NSFW PHOTOS)
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