The Japan Times featured an interesting article by Brett Bull about nyotaimori (女体盛り), the custom of feasting on food served atop a [mostly] naked woman. Googling for images for this entry, I’d reckon a guess that the practice is far more popular overseas than it is in Japan nowadays, with specialty services popping up stateside and the infamy of the practice amongst people all around the world. A colleague whose job it is to entertain people from overseas on tech tours of Tokyo once commented that nyotaimori was almost always brought up by groups of businessmen, and how difficult it was to discover a place where they could experience the phenomenon. In the end he said he did discover a place that offered it — at a far more extravagant price then most would be willing to pay. Check out Jake’s quote in the article for information on how the practice has died out with the yakuza.
Nyotaimori: a Japanese tradition?
“Female body arrangement” may exist in Japan, but you’ll have to look underground to find it
By BRETT BULL (Special to The Japan Times)
For at least as long as nyotaimori ― the practice of serving sushi on the body of a naked female’s torso ― has been making inroads overseas, the media has been raising the same question: Where does the practice fit within the context of Japanese culture?
For an answer, one can turn to the 168-cm-long body of Miho Wakabayashi. Until last year, the 30-year-old’s bare stomach and limbs were adorned with fish and fresh fruit slices once a month at the Sleeping Beauty “happening bar” in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. (Such a drinking establishment is one in which customers engage in uninhibited intimate activities with one another.)
“It was a show promoted as a special event,” says Wakabayashi, who is also a part-time stripper, sometimes performing at the legendary Rokku-za theater in Asakusa, and an actress in adult films. “It was used as a kind of ice-breaker intended to draw laughs.”
Yet it is generally nonexistent today, she believes, “and because it is so rare, when the organizers of the bar announce they are going to do it, it is a good way to get more people to attend.”
Perceptions of nyotaimori overseas, however, are quite different. News stories covering the openings of nyotaimori enterprises from Florida to London over the past decade refer to it as a form of Japanese food culture and not as an underground activity ― a misunderstanding that has resulted in substantial resentment.