Japan may be known for its quirky style, kaleidoscopic fashion and unique culture, but it surely doesn’t get more surprising than this.
Each year locals get together for an annual Penis Festival, a celebration of good luck and fertility that is thought to have been held since the 17th century.
During springtime each year, people flow into the city of Kawasaki to celebrate Kanamara Matsuri, the Festival of the Steel Phallus.
Like any great tradition, this festival is said to have emerged from local folklore about a demon who fell in love with a beautiful woman.
The demon, so jealous that he could not have the woman, would do whatever he could to her lovers, knocking them out one by one.
He finally met his match when a blacksmith fashioned a steel phallus, which was used to break the demon’s teeth, setting the woman free from the grip he had on her life.
Not at all sexual in nature, whole families, including children, join in on the festivities. Large penises are paraded through the streets as it is thought that touching or praying with them can bring good luck.
Now the festival has taken on a modern twist and is used to educate people about safe sex practices and AIDS prevention.
This article originally appeared on Travel at 60.
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