Home to the Kanayama Jinja Shrine, Kawasaki, southwest of Tokyo, has been closely tied to the male anatomy for centuries, due to a persistent local legend, so its famed Shinto shrine to the relic of a steel phallus was, well, erected. Finally a third, more determined suitor, a blacksmith, created an iron phallus that broke the demon's teeth; the man won over the beautiful woman while the demon presumably returned back to the ether to receive quite the lecture from his orthodontist. For the prudish, it might be hard to see, but it does have its benefits: These days, sales from the festival — penis clothing, candy, food, toys — rake in gobs of money every year, put duly to work toward HIV research. Van Sise is a New York-based portrait and features photographer. Early April in Kawasaki, Japan, is set aside for the Kanamara Matsuri, or the festival of the steel phallus, in which a hundred thousand revelers come here to celebrate one thing: the male organ. Local families and businesses work for months to make the enormous genitals carried on the shoulders of teams of men through Kawasaki's tight streets.
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