Monday, April 4, 2011

Kanamara Matsuri

This past weekend we went to the Kanamara Matsuri, an annual fertility festival. I'm sure there are multiple locations, but we went to one at a small shrine in Kawasaki.

The first part of this post is fine for everyone to read, the second part is optional. That second part is why we went, but it would definitely offend some people if I didn't give fair warning.

At the Kawasakidaishi station, there is a place to get snacks, drinks, and newspapers. Conveniently placed next to two other drink vending machines (not pictured). You can't have too many vending machines here.

But, you know, it's everything you need if you have some time to kill. I approve!

The shrine itself is small, but as well-kept as any other. This first picture was taken around 10am; it got more crowded as the morning progressed.

People are in line to ring the bell, I assume it's for good luck and/or fertility. Healthy children, that sort of thing. (Edit: it's to get the attention of the gods for prayer, if I'm reading the explanation in the comments correctly.)

Shortly after we arrived, this random tiny old Japanese man tapped Husband on the shoulder and gestured for the two of us to follow him. He led us through the crowd to point out some of the...landmarks...and to take our picture in front of them with my camera. I haven't the faintest idea why, but it was amusing.

He approached us a couple other times, too. One was to get our picture with this person in traditional costume:

And the other was to give us this event poster:

After that, he just vanished into the crowd.
Well, I'm sure he was around, I just didn't see him after that.

Nearby was a monkey show. The guy is wearing a wig, which I found curious.

On the edge of the shrine grounds is a preschool.

Next to the preschool, the cub scouts were making curry or soup for sale. To the right of this photo, they have a booth where they were taking donations for disaster relief.

Also nearby, some costumed people are having a picnic under the cherry blossoms.

The sakura aren't out as much as I expected they would be; maybe it will be more obvious next week, and maybe I've been going to the wrong places so far this year.

Near the main shrine building, food stands were set up. Unfortunately, nearly everything had meat in it, so I didn't get a chance to eat those delicious-looking pancakes.

Early in the afternoon there was a ceremonial dance.

I've come to the realization that outside of a fantasy/scifi convention, Japan is probably the only place you can go to any random event or landmark and see people in pajama costumes.
(The guy in his costume smoking a cigar? That's weird. Even for dudes wearing footie pajamas in public.)

Since I couldn't eat the food at the shrine, we wandered a few blocks away for lunch at an Italian restaurant. On the way, I saw these. I don't know anything about them other than they're cool.

This brings us to the end of Part I. To see Part II, click the text below.

By clicking this link I acknowledge that I will see the REAL reason they went to this festival. I also acknowledge that it may not be safe for work.


  1. The card in Japanese says "May your offspring/descendants flourish/prosper".

  2. People ring the bell at temples to let the Gods know they're there so they can hear their prayers.

  3. You guys are the best.