kanamara_matsuriNEW YORK, Mar 27, 2010 / FW/ — Don’t be fooled. This is not a April Fool’s joke. Every year, on the first Sunday of April, the annual Shinto fertility festival, “Kanamara Matsuri”, formally translated in English as “Festival of the Steel Phallus” or colloquially called the “Penis Festival” is celebrated in Japan with the center of festivities held in Kawasaki.

As expected, the penis forms the central theme of the event that is reflected everywhere—in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

Since time immemorial, the Kanamara Matsuri is centered on a local Kawasaki penis-venerating shrine which according to records that have also become part of the legend was that it was once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Still, the bigger part of the legend says that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan’s prosperity, easy delivery of a baby, marriage, and married couple harmony.

Today, the festival has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is used to raise money for HIV research. For the first week of April, the streets of Kawasaki stand erect with phallic see-saws, penis carving contests, and edible sweetmeat manhood replicas all in the name of fertility.

Along the same vein, at New York’s Matsuri restaurant, Chef Tadashi Ono will offer his tongue-in-cheek take on the festivities with a one-night-only Penis Matsuri menu on, of course, April Fool’s Day.

The day’s festivities are in partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which will be giving guests complimentary Jeremy Scott for PROPER ATTIRE® condoms.

Penis Matsuri menu: Available April 1, 2010 ONLY

  • Ginseng Up Cocktail ($12)
  • Get It Up Hot Pot ($23) – a traditional Japanese Hot Pot of oyster and sea urchin in dashi broth
  • Big Sausage ($18) – with sea scallops and spicy cod roe
  • Hard Banana Cream Pie ($9) – caramelized with chocolate ice cream

The Maritime Hotel
369 W 16th St. at 9th avenue
New York, NY 10011

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 6 – 12 PM

For additional information about Matsuri and The Penis Festival, call 212.243.6400 or visit www.matsurinyc.com