Nyotaimori (female body presentation), often referred to as “body sushi,” is the extremely rare practice of serving sashimi or sushi from the body of a woman, typically naked. Nantaimori  refers to the same practice using a male model. This subdivision of food play is originally an obscure Japanese practice that has attracted considerable international media attention.

Nyotaimori or naked sushi

Before becoming a living sushi platter, the person (usually a woman) is trained to lie down for hours without moving. She or he must also be able to withstand the prolonged exposure to the cold food. Before service, the individual is supposed to have taken a bath using a special fragrance-free soap and then finished off with a splash of cold water to cool the body down somewhat for the sushi. In some parts of the world, in order to comply with sanitation laws, there must be a layer of plastic or other material between the sushi and the body of the woman or man.

Is this art?

A naked sushi presentation

Promoters, eating participants, and proponents of the practice often say that nyotaimori is a form of art.

This argument is rejected by some feminists, who argue that it objectifies the woman or the man doing the serving.

Worldwide reception varies. This practice of using naked women as food platters is described as rare, obscure even, and according to Wikipeda has been outlawed in China for public health reasons.

Naked sushi anyone?

Naked sushi is a trend just hitting South Africa.

Eating sushi from the body of a naked model has been deemed "anti-revolutionary" by South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).

The ANC has claimed that the rare Japanese art of Nyotaimori is not to be encouraged.

There have allegedly been several reports of wealthy businessmen attending Nyotaimori parties in South Africa in recent months.

A newspaper in Johannesburg reported that the head of the ANC’s youth league had attended a party where sushi was served off models’ bodies.

On 21st October last year, South African Kenny Kunene, businessman and club owner had a big bash for his fortieth birthday. The party, held at his club, hosted  ANCYL president Julius Malema and featured models lying on tables in bikinis their bodies covered with sushi. It raised the hackles of ANC politicians, the Trade Union leadership and women’s groups including the ANC Women’s League  and was criticized by COSATU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, leading to a political row.

Undaunted, or perhaps spurred on by the significant publicity Kunene repeated the stunt at the launching of his latest club ZAR on the Cape Town waterfront late last month.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was moved to voice his condemnation of the “serving of sushi on the bodies of scantily clad women,” calling it, “This act is anti-ANC and anti-revolutionary. This act is defamatory, insensitive and undermining of woman's integrity. Kunene told the paper he understood the party’s concerns and since he was humbled by the way Mantashe handled the situation would desist in future from serving sushi that way. He told the paper:

“If the ANC had not spoken I would have had Indian and Chinese girls in Durban. I just wanted to change the plates to see how the sushi tastes from one plate to the other – so South Africans will miss the Indian plates and the Chinese plates,” he said bursting into laughter’. Kunene also added he was not the only one who enjoyed picking sushi off beautiful bodies. “White ladies were also enjoying sushi off male sushi plates.”

The rough translation of the word nyotaimori is "Adorned body of a woman."

This type of art (yes, it's an art) is well accepted in Japan. Tokyo is world famous for this type of dinner theatre and art practice.

Rumors of locations in Berlin, London, San Francisco, New York and Paris are perhaps true, but many of the rumored places have been closed as a result of protests.

Nyotaimori Sushi Model

A person reports about San Francisco: "Perhaps the best way to get Nyotaimori style sushi in San Francisco without being yakuza, is to post on craigslist for attractive, clean young women who like to lie very still."

An early 90's film buff reports: "Popularized in the minds of late-night HBO viewers everywhere by the execrable 1991 action film Showdown in Little Tokyo".

Confessions Of A Naked Sushi Model” by Melanie Berliet is an interesting article on her experience as a model for a naked sushi session.

Melanie Berliet as a naked sushi model