Nyotaimori (女体盛り, "serve (foods) on the female body"), often referred to as "body sushi", is the Japanese practice of serving sashimi or sushi from the naked body of a woman. Nantaimori (男体盛り) refers to the same practice using a male model.
The Japanese practice of nyotaimori – serving sushi on a naked body – is said to have its origins in the samurai period in Japan. In the words of chef Mike Keenan, "The naked sushi idea began during the samurai period in Japan. It was a subculture to the geishas. It would take place in a geisha house as a celebration after a victorious battle."
In traditional nyotaimori, the model is generally expected to lie still at all times and not talk with guests. The sushi is placed on sanitized leaves on the model's body to prevent skin-to-fish contact and on sufficiently flat areas of the body off which the sushi will not roll. Nyotaimori is considered an art form.
Usually champagne and sake are served in naked sushi restaurants. Guests must be respectful and observe the strictest decorum. Talking with the models is highly discouraged. Inappropriate gestures or comments are not tolerated and diners can only pick up sushi with chopsticks, although rules in some restaurants are less strict. For example, in some restaurants guests can nibble nori rolls off nipples if they choose.
The practice has been described as decadent, humiliating, cruel, and objectifying. Guardian columnist Julie Bindel notes that the woman being used to serve the food, on at least one occasion in London, looked "as if in a morgue, awaiting a postmortem". It has received popularity in Japanese organized crime.
Worldwide reception varies as several countries have banned the practice. In 2005, China has outlawed nyotaimori on naked bodies, condemning it due to public health reasons and moral issues. In Hong Kong, organizers of a brunch event with nyotaimori have met with backlash from the public, as they were accused of sexism under the pretense of art. The nyotaimori was subsequently cancelled for the then-upcoming event.
The birthday party of South African entrepreneur Kenny Kunene on 21 October 2010, which hosted African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema and featured nyotaimori, was criticised by Congress of South African Trade Unions secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, leading to a political row. The ANC Women's League condemned nyotaimori at Kunene's party as an attack on the bodily integrity and dignity of women in South Africa.
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- A chat with 'Sushi King', Tonight, 6 February 2011
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