Kanamara Matsuri 2019: Toasting “Wa” While Bar-Hopping in Kawasaki!
Last updated: 27 March 2019
The Kanamara Phallus Festival is with us for another year, so it’s time to head to Kawasaki for one of Japan’s most iconic celebrations. Held on April 7, in and around Kanayama Shrine, the bombastic event has an added component this year: a bar-hopping cruise that will keep the party going long after the phallus-focused celebrations have died down.
The Kawasaki Bar-Hopping Traditional Cuisine and Sake Festival is a party that runs alongside the Kanamara Festival and raises a glass to Japanese nihonshu (rice wine) and washoku (Japanese cuisine). The festivities include numerous Japanese cultural activities that will have you partying with geisha, enjoying anime, and dancing to J-Pop.
Themed around the Japanese concept of wa—or the essence of Japan—the day is sure to leave you well fed, a little mellow, and with a new appreciation for Japanese culture.
Raising Mikoshi as Well as Eyebrows
For those not in the know—or perhaps who just don’t know it by name—the Kanamara Festival is a celebration of the phallus. It has garnered quite a bit of attention over the past decade despite having been a very popular festival in the Kawasaki area for centuries. The mikoshi (portable shrine) that is hoisted during the festivities is something of a surreal sight. It’s no wonder that some 30,000 international visitors are drawn to the festival each year, joining the local crowd who are probably surprised by all the attention!
This year, the festival’s end means the fun is just getting started! That’s when you begin your Kawasaki Bar-Hopping experience. If you bring some form of proof that you participated in the festival, be it a photo, flyer or any other souvenir, you can even access secret menus and enjoy other perks at the Bar-Hopping festivities so make sure you grab something before you set off!
Make La Cittadella Your Next Destination!
The fun centers on La Cittadella, a shopping center conveniently located right at the East Exit of JR Kawasaki Station, accessible by the Keihin-Tohoku, Tokaido, and Nambu Lines within 30 minutes of Ginza, Shibuya, and even Haneda Airport. In addition to the train lines, from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m. a free shuttle bus will take you from Kawasaki-Daishi Station on the Keikyu Daishi Line—just a stone’s throw from the site of the Kanamara Festival—all the way to the Kawasaki Bar-Hopping event area. The route takes about 20 minutes and the bus departs every half hour.
Enjoy the festival your way and, when ready, hop aboard or take the train for the after party!
Start the Night Out Your Way with the Kawasaki Pre-Party!
More than 30 participating restaurants and bars await you, and there is no end to the drinking and dining options.
For drinks, whether you want to keep to crisp Japanese beers or hit up one of the many new craft brews, that’s your call. Whatever your beverage of choice this is an invitation to indulge in an authentic Japanese drinking party, and nothing says Japan like sake, so why not start your night with a nod to tradition?
Make Your ‘Kanpai’ Toast to Japanese Rice Wine!
Kawasaki Bar-Hopping is proud to support sake made using the finest local ingredients, so why not enjoy tasting menus as you go bar to bar expanding your palat
Make the aptly named Sake BAR your first port of call. Here you will find a top 10 of sake selected by the manager of specialist sake shop ICHIGO from the 100 or more that they keep in stock. The expert selection is ready to be tasted throughout the day (11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.) and prices start at ¥500 a glass, making this a very reasonable way to become a sake expert in no time at all! Sake BAR is located on Cinecitta’ Street in the La Cittadella shopping area, so you can’t miss it.
Starting at 4:00 p.m., there is also a ceremonial barrel breaking event and free sake tasting while supplies last. The first 200 visitors will receive a very special present, so don’t delay!
Professional sumo wrestlers from the local stable will also be participating in the sake barrel-breaking ceremony at 4:00 p.m. Then, from 6:00–7:00 p.m., you will have a chance to see them around Cinecitta’ Street. For a souvenir to treasure, feel free to ask to have your photo taken with them!
Dine the Night Away
Once you have explored the many events on offer and wet your whistle, you can then crawl the 30-plus participating restaurants and bars in the La Cittadella and surrounding area of Ogawacho. If you show any photos or souvenirs or the event flyer that prove you were at the Kanamara Festival to staff, you’ll be entitled to special menus and secret services depending on the establishment exclusive to the Bar-Hopping event!
For gourmands, there is everything from Japanese nabe stew to yakitori grilled chicken skewers. If there is something you have always wanted to try when it comes to Japanese cuisine, now is your chance!
Participating restaurants include Love which specializes in kurobuta, black Berkshire pork shabu-shabu hotpot, Nabezo where you can enjoy all you can eat shabu-shabu and sukiyaki hotpots, as well as Kushihide which serves deep-fried kushiage skewers that are perfect to pair with Japanese sake.
Party the Traditional Way with Geisha!
At 5:00 and 7:00 p.m., the main stage of La Cittadella will be taken over by authentic Japanese geisha entertainers. You’ll have the chance to join them for some old-school drinking games that have been the highlight of parties for centuries. These games become more difficult with each drink, so you might want to pace yourself if victory is your goal. There are also photo opportunities, so if you’ve ever wanted your photo taken with a real geisha, now is your chance.
The fun doesn’t stop there. On Cinecitta’ Street, you can dress up as a samurai in armor between 2:00 and 9:00 p.m. and take part in a special swordsmanship class at 8:30 p.m.
Fancy having your name transformed into kanji, the characters used to write Japanese? On Cinecitta’ Street you’ll find someone who can do just that for ¥1,000. This and other traditional Japanese fun, such as live painting, will be on offer from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.
If Japanese pop culture is what you are looking for, then navigate to BAR A’TTIC, where you’ll find a non-stop anime and J-Pop DJ party underway from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. The entrance fee is ¥2,000 and includes one drink, but you can get in half price if you come in cosplay.
Take this chance to put yourself in touch with a range of traditional Japanese cuisine and become a sake expert in a single evening. Along with the Kanamara Festival and various cultural experiences, this is your opportunity to drink up Japanese culture with all your senses. You’re sure to be left wanting to come back for more next year!
Watch for more information on the official home page below and make your visit to the Kanamara Festival one to remember with Kawasaki Bar-Hopping.
Kawasaki Bar-Hopping Traditional Cuisine and Sake Festival
Sunday, April 7, 2019
(You must be 20 years old or over to drink alcohol in Japan.)
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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.