Nyotaimori is a Japanese ritual, the practice of eating sushi served on the body of a naked woman.

Sadly, as feminist groups and others who don't quite like the idea of using a body as a platter have begun protesting against the practice of nyotaimori, many Japanese restaurants have stopped offering it. However, old traditions die hard; there are still some places in Japan, as well as elsewhere, where one can have nyotaimori - although it comes at a steep price: as much as $1000 for each guest.

However, depending on the "quality", this price can drop significantly. If you eat nyotaimori in Sweden, you won't get a virgin (as is the custom) and you won't be allowed to see any genitals. On the other hand, Swedish nyotaimori comes at the bargain price of only $100/guest.

As more people have begun to protest against the practice of nyotaimori, restrictions have been put in place: the guests no longer enjoy commenting the woman's body and poking her breasts and vagina like they used to back in the eighties, when nyotaimori was not quite as rare as it is today. The requirement that the woman has to be a virgin has also been more or less dropped. Many restaurants offering nyotaimori also refuse to serve groups consisting of only males - a wise precaution, perhaps.

I'm sorry, but calling nyotaimori a "quite common" Japanese "ritual" or "tradition" is really stretching it. As I recall (sorry, can't find a source right now, and it would in Japanese anyway) nyotaimori was dreamed up less than 10 years ago by a ryokan keeper desperate to find a way to get more customers to his lodge way out in the boondocks. A somewhat sensationalist Playboy article in 1999 alerted the world to its existence and now nyotaimori seems to feature prominently in the fantasies of anime otaku everywhere...

At any rate, nyotaimori quite literally means "female body plate". The crotch is covered with shiso leaves and attempts to poke at it will result in the plate's immediate departure. In all, the whole idea is really rather silly: heating raw fish to 37 degrees and giving it a fine coat of sweat is unlikely to improve the taste. If you want to see a naked woman up close, you can go to helluva lot of strip bars for $1000, not to mention get laid. On the other hand, I doubt Japanese feminists give a fig about this, nobody is forcing women into being platters and much worse goes on daily in the murky depths of Kabukicho.

Incidentally, a Japanese language web search for nyotaimori will turn up a lot more links to Nyotaimori The Thoroughbred Enkacore Crew, who evidently combine enka with hardcore punk and seem to be quite popular in the Japanese alternative scene.

See http://www.multimania.com/isgtokyo/actua/nyotaimo/nyotaimo.htm for a French version of the Playboy article, with the original pictures.

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