Nyotaimori, also known as “body sushi”, is a form of food play where sushi or sashimi is served on and eaten from the typically naked female body. The equivalent practice on a male body is called Nantaimori.
History of Nyotaimori
The origin of nyotaimori is ambiguous at best, for there is a notable lack of primary sources on the subject.
Food play in Japan can be traced back to Edo period (1603-1867) with the practice of wakamezake, an act that involves drinking sake from a woman’s pubic region. It was at this time that nyotaimori may have become popular as well, when Geisha houses would host samurai warriors who celebrated their victories by enjoying nyotaimori feasts. Others claim it finds its roots with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, who showed off the extravagance of their power and wealth by reducing human bodies to decorative art pieces.
In the latter half of the 20th century, eroticized images of nyotaimori were used in tourism advertisements that targeted male customers traveling alone to the hot spring regions of Japan. The practice was later adopted by other industries as a novel or extravagant addition to an event. In the West, it has become especially popular for events such as bachelor parties.
The model lies still and horizontal on their back, mostly or completely nude. The sushi pieces may be arranged on leaves, which are placed on flatter areas of the model’s body where the pieces are less likely to roll off.
To comply with health and food safety regulations, a protective layer of plastic or other material may be placed between the skin of the model and the food to be consumed. The model remains quiet and stoic throughout the event and they do not engage with the guests. They are meant to play the role of a plate or a dish, not entertain the guests present.
Guests typically use chopsticks to remove pieces of sushi from the mode, though some places may permit their guests to use their hands. The model is to be respected and guests are discouraged from talking to or interacting with them.
While there is an erotic element to the art of nyotaimori, it is typically not a sexual experience and touching the model beyond collecting the pieces of food is generally not allowed. However, some establishments are less strict and permit some more gratuitous touching of the model.
Trends and Controversy
Nyotaimori may have ties that can be traced back to Japan, but it is not widely practiced in Japan today. It gained international notoriety around the turn of the 21st century, though its reception has varied from mere balking to outright banning. Many have deemed the practice as one that objectifies and degrades the model, and some countries have outlawed it on the grounds of public health as well as moral concerns.