Transvestites at the Kanamara Penis Festival


Transvestites carrying a giant penis through the streets of Kanagawa City.

Video of the festival:
Shrine homepage: (Japanese only)

2-3-16 Daishi Eki-mae, Misaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Inside the grounds of Wakamiya Hachimangu.

To get there, take the Keikyu line from Shinagawa Station. Transfer to the Keikyu-Daishi Line at Keikyu Kawasaki Station and get out at Keikyu-Daishi. It takes about 45 minutes and costs 580 yen. It starts at 10:00 AM.web analytics

There are other posts about the festival here:

Kyudo demonstration at the Meiji Shrine

The Culture Day (Nov. 3) Festival at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is something I look forward to every year. I’ve been four times, and still get excited about going because it’s so great for photography. I tried out the Jidai Matsuri in Asakusa last year, but a lot of the costumes were kind of cheesy, and it was so crowded it was hard to take photos.


The festival starts at 9:00 in the morning, but the first big event is the kyuudo (Japanese archery) demonstration, which starts at 11:00.


This old man seemed really shaky – except when he had a bow in his hands.


Everyone was given a small cup of sacred sake after the ceremony.


The hats are kind of funny, but the kimono are just gorgeous.


There are more photos of this festival at:

Portable Shrine in the Nakamise Shopping Arcade


A mikoshi (portable shrine) being carried down Asakusa’s Nakamise shopping arcade in front of Senso-ji Temple during the Sanja Matsuri Festival.

Here are some other posts about the Sanja Matsuri.

Horseback Archery


This horseback archery event took place in Takadanobaba on Sports Day, October 9. In yabusame demonstrations, the participants gallop a horse at full speed down a track, and try to hit three small targets that are only a hundred meters or so apart.
Here’s a video:

Another good yabusame demonstration is held at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo on Culture Day, November 3. It’s put on by the Takeda-ryu. According to their homepage, it’s possible to watch one of their practices on Sunday mornings, and they’re also recruiting new members: (Japanese only). Address: Kanagawa-ken, Miuri-shi, Hatsusemachi-koen 1140, Miura Kokusai Joba Kurabu, TEL 0467-22-1929

They have an English page at:


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Japanese Superhero Masks

Visit any Japanese festival, and there will probably be at least one booth selling these superhero masks.

Samurai Reenactors

Every year on November third, thousands of martial artists gather on the grounds of the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo to give demonstrations of their techniques. There’s karate, aikido, kyudo, and jujutsu, but also some very unusual arts such as yabusame (horseback archery), and nawa-jutsu (rope fighting). The day culminates with a demonstration of samurai firearms called hinawaju.
If you like photography, you’re sure to get some great shots of martial artists in action.

Mikoshi Men

This was taken at the Sanja Matsuri, one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals, back in July. The mikoshi season is almost over now, but there’s a big one this weekend in Tokyo.

It’s called the Oedo Mikoshi Matsuri in Kiba Koen (link is a .pdf) and is held on Sunday October 12. It features 200 groups and has more than 2000 participants, with 13 large-size portable shrines. There will also be traditional performing arts from the Edo Period (1609-1867) and traditional balad singing called kayo. The ballad singing is from 11:00 to 1:00, and the mikoshi are from 1:00 to 3:30.
Access: 5 minutes walk from [Kiba Sta.] of Tokyo-metro Tozai Line,15 minutes walk from [Kiyosumi Shirakawa Sta.] of Toei Subway Oedo Line and Tokyo-metro Hanzomon Line,15 minutes walk from [Kikukawa Sta.] of Toei Subway Shinjuku Line

Shinagawa Festival

It’s not so famous, but I the Shinagawa Matsuri is one of the best festivals I’ve seen in Tokyo. There’s a procession of people in costume from the Edo Period (1609-1867), and then a firewalking by priests and spectators. The procession of people in historiecal costumes is similar to Asakusa’s Jidai Matsuri on November 3, but the Shinagawa version is a little smaller, so it’s not nearly so crowded, and there’s a lot more of a community feeling to it.

The first part of the fire festival is really intense. The priests all stand around chanting, and sometimes one of them will put a wet branch into the fire and flagellate themselves with it. Then they take turns running through the fire. After that, the fire is put out, and everyone is invited to walk over the hot coals, so if you’ve ever wanted to try firewalking, this is your chance.

The procession before the firewalking ritual includes contestants from the Miss Shinagawa contest, as well as samurai, courtesans, ninja, and characters from history. Some of the costumes are pretty cheesy, but there are lots of good ones too.

The Shinagawa Matsuri is held on the last weekend in September. The procession and firewalking are on  Sunday and start from around noon. Here’s a link to the festival’s website (Japanese only):

Belt Pouch

Pouch worn by participant in the Kanamara fertility festivalweb analytics

Samba in the Rain

This weekend was the famous Asakusa Samba Carnival. It’s been happening every year since 1981 when the mayor of Taito Ward invited the winning dance team from Brazil’s Samba Carnival to Japan. The weather for yesterday’s event was beautiful until about 3 pm when it suddenly started to pour. A lot of the spectators quickly headed for home, but the dancers seemed to love it.

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