First, Kanamara Matsuri.
The line to enter Kanayama Shrine stretched around the block twice but moved surprisingly quickly. Once I was in sight of the shrine, I could hear karaoke shrines of “Africa” by Toto, and see a row of dick-themed food carts. A large assortment of dicks, big and small, decorated every square inch of the small shrine: in hair clips, t-shirts, and lollipops.
Kanamara Matsuri, or the Festival of the Steel Phallus, is a local tradition in the Kanayama Shrine. A long long time ago, a woman was haunted by a demon that would not allow her to marry. Any time she tried, the demon would attack her husband by waiting in her vagina and biting him when he tried to consumate the marriage. In desperation, she turned to a blacksmith (who ya gonna call??) who built her a steel phallus in order to break the demons teeth. She was able to marry, and the iron dildo that came to her rescule was venerated and enshrined.
The kanayama Shrine hosts the festival every year. Sex workers pray at the shrine for protection against STI’s, and young families pray for fertility. Much of the money now raised goes to HIV research.
Unfortunately by the time I got there, they had run out of dick pops, but my friend very kindly gave me one of her vagina pops.
Ultimately we left pretty early- the lines were long, and after a while strangers in a crowd accidentally hitting you with their giant balloon animal boners gets tiring and makes your pants staticky (there was a guy making balloon animals from long and skinny balloons, minus the ‘making them into animals’ part) But I got to eat a vagina pop in a shrine while listening to a cover of “It’s Raining Men” sung by a Japanese rock band, so I am much less disappointed on missing Seattle Pride this year.