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Ru has fun with phallic stones

Caveat lector! Let the reader beware! This post is X-rated, but c'mon, I haven't written a raunchy post about a naughty shrine for a long time. This one is about a man root. A big, fully erect, rock-hard man root … right in the middle of Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park. Bet you didn't know about it, but trust your friendly local foreign guide to hunt it down!

Japan could be called a penis-friendly country. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of phallic stones all over the country, and shrines conduct exuberant fertility festivals with prodigious penises …

Why isn't it penii? Wait, let me check. Oh! Penes can also be used as a plural. I didn't know that.

Shrines conduct exuberant fertility festivals with prodigious penises prancing about. The most famous one near Tokyo is probably the Kanamara Matsuri or Festival of the Steel Phallus held at Kanayama Jinja on the first Sunday in April, but Tokyo itself has its fair share of phallic stones at shrines. They're not particularly well-known, but fear not, I'm about to enlighten you.

A phallic stone is called a dankon ishi (男根石) in Japanese. The two kanji in dankon (phallus) mean man and root; ishi is stone. Don't confuse dankon with daikon, OK, as tempted as you might be.

Where wôs I?

One such stone stands on Shōtenjima (聖天島), a small island next to Benten-dō in Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park. It's not easy to see it, though, because the island is fenced off and in a badly neglected state. You have to do the African thing and break and enter. That's what I did. Well. Almost. It was dusk and there weren't too many people around, so I took a chance. I didn't climb over, but I did clamber onto the gate, almost breaking my neck and taking a nose-dive into the mud. Since I was wobbling on rusty iron, the photos aren't particularly brilliant, but it should still be obvious what you're looking at.

It's a giant willy, right?


It's actually a Jizō statue.

Wait, before we continue this foreplay, you Americans know what a willy is, don't you? You call it a dick and a schlong and a pecker and a weenie; us British types prefer willy and knob and tool and todger.

Don't complain about the quality of the photo.
I had to do a Cirque du Soleil high-wire balancing act to get it.

I haven't been able to find much information, but apparently the model was En no Gyōja (役行), the founder of Shugendō, a Japanese sect that combines mountain asceticism with Shinto and Buddhist concepts. No no no. He was the model for the Jizō. What were you thinking?!

I couldn't take photos of the statue's front, but I found this on the internet. I'm not going to embed the photo here, because there's a copyright request on the website. I have no idea how he got that photo, but perhaps he's related to Rat Boy.

The statue, which obviously has a beard, is known as the Bearded Jizō (髭地蔵, Hige Jizō). It's not clear when it was made, but it was probably put on the island during the Edo era, when there were plenty of so-called deai chaya (出合茶屋) in the area. That was a tea house where men and women met to, umm, not to drink tea. Deai means encounter, but the two kanji make me smile (again): 出 means to exit or to go out or to protrude; 合 means to join or to fit.

That's the information I managed to find. It remains a bit of a mystery, but unsolved mysteries are more intriguing, aren’t they?

So there it stands, a lonely phallus, imprisoned behind a fence, with no worshippers, no boisterous festivals with prayers and laughter, no hands to caress it in exchange for good luck. It's a bit sad. Next time you walk past Benten-dō, take a quick detour and say hi to it, willy? I mean, willya?

Below, a close-up and a small fox statue which indicates that it's an Inari shrine. That would make sense: Inari is the god of fertility.

Wait! Bonus!

I discovered another one in our neighbourhood. When I started researching phallic stones in Tokyo, I never expected there would be one just around the corner. Ueno Park is also within easy walking distance, but it's a bit further (or should that be lengthier?) than our very own local dankon. I should've known we'd boast a few. This is, after all, where the heart of old Edo was.

This small shitamachi temple also displays female unmentionables. The male stone and the female stone are right next to each other, with the female stone directly facing the male stone. It's very sweet.

Male and female stones at Eikenji

The temple is called Eikenji (永見寺), and it's in Kotobuki, very close to the temple for dead stories. It's a completely nondescript place, except for one grave where a famous Edo courtesan called Tamagiku (玉菊) was buried. Her name could be translated as Chrysanthemum Jewel or possibly Chrysanthemum Ball or maybe, by implication, Chrysanthemum Bud. Tama is also a slang word for testicles, so …

Nah, probably not.

She lived in Yoshiwara from 1702 to 1726, and it's said that she was a stunning beauty who was highly skilled in all the arts: koto, shamisen, incense, haiku, the tea ceremony. The fact that she was buried properly and wasn't merely dumped with the rest of them indicates that she was held in very high regard.

The temple's entry in (an excellent shrine/temple reference) has no mention whatsoever of her grave or the two stones, but I promise you, it's there.

You can visit the temple, pay your respects to an unusual woman and pray for anything that's related to sexuality: boy/girlfriend, lover, wedding, babies, happiness, fertility, fun.

Sounds good to me.

Tamagiku's grave. The two stones are inside, to the left.

The entrance to Eikenji. Below is a map with the temple's location.

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