Nyotaimori, “female body presentation”, is a service allowing restaurant customers to eat from the skin of a naked woman. Apart from her crotch, which is usually covered with some kind of garnish, the model’s modesty depends on the (temporary) position of the food on her body. Also known as “body sushi”, this phenomenon received a lot of media attention in the West in the 1990s. This coverage massively exaggerated the popularity of nyotaimori in Japan – these restaurants are actually very rare, and generally associated with organised crime rather than being mainstream.
Aside from the obvious attractions of salivating over a nubile body, it is claimed that nyotaimori warms the food to body temperature. Apparantly, this allows the diner to focus on the texture and taste, rather than its temperature. However, many people fail to see the advantage of sushi being lukewarm and slightly sweaty.
Jobs in nyotaimori are not for the ticklish or fidgety. Models are trained to lie still for hours, and they must be able to endure unexpected splashes of cold water and prods with chopsticks. Her body must be completely shaved, and specially washed with fragrance-free soap before the feast. Traditionally, the meal is eaten directly from the skin of the model, but hygiene laws in many countries prevent this – forcing restaurants to wrap their girls in clingfilm to prevent contact between skin and food. According to custom, the model should be a virgin, but this doesn’t seem to be observed any more.
The spread of nyotaimori outside Japan has been limited. Some restaurants started offering human platters, only to withdraw the service months later when faced with the moral backlash. In 2005, China, continuing its valiant crusade for human rights, banned restaurants from providing nyotaimori service, saying the practice “insults people’s moral quality”. For the handful of Western restaurants that still provide body sushi, stiffer rules have been imposed – customers cannot talk to the “plate”, molest her, or say anything offensive to or about her. She’s still naked though.
A similar delicacy is wakame sake, which is poured down a model’s body and drunk from the cup formed by her closed thighs. The name “wakame“, meaning soft seaweed, refers to the pubic hair floating in the drink. This is not widely-practiced, and wakame sake is even rarer than nyotaimori.
- Wakame sake (Wikipedia)
- Nyotaimori (Wikipedia)
- ‘China outlaws naked sushi meals’ (BBC News)
- ‘Naked sushi leaves a bad taste’
Criticises arrival of nyotaimori restaurants in the US
- ‘The naked lunch turns fishy’ (UPI)
- ‘Body sushi is not for the ticklish’ (Guardian Unlimited)
- ‘Does this smell fishy to you?’
- Restaurant’s displays get women’s group steamed
- How to do a proper wakame sake