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The Japan’s Italian embassy has officially protested the description of nyotaimori (“naked sushi”) as a “traditional Japanese” culinary practice, after the nation’s first nude sushi restaurant proudly trumpeted it as such.

The embassy’s outrage stems from “Rome’s premier Japanese restaurant” Ristorante Giapponese Yoshi’s decision to offer “body sushi” cuisine, providing “Italy’s first” authentic nyotaimori dining experience, with human platters of both sexes available for €199 plus €59 per customer.

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This was soon picked up by the Italian press, which uncritically introduced it as if it were offering a “traditional” or common culinary experience from Japan.

However, the Japanese embassy was having none of it, and sent letters of protest to all such rags chastising them thus:

“The notion that this is a Japanese tradition is a mere superstition fabricated for marketing purposes.”

It is not clear whether the establishment in question is actually owned or run by Japanese.

Just where and when “nyotaimori” arose is not clear, but the complete absence of historical references to the practice (in fact almost all references to it in Japanese refer to the controversies it causes overseas) seems to suggest it is at best a recent and obscure creation of Japan’s sex industry which has been picked up overseas and then marketed using a “Japanese perversion” or “ancient and traditional Japanese refinement” angle, if not a complete fabrication as the embassy would have it.

Most Japanese in any case clearly consider the practice disgusting or else have far more interesting fetishes in which to indulge – it is not even clear whether there are any such establishments in Japan, a nation overflowing with bizarre sex clubs of all kinds.

The Japanese Internet is awash with theories as to the true state of affairs:

“Eating off a foreigner sounds smelly.”

“This does sound like a Japanese tradition though…”

“This is about as traditional as nopan-shabushabu.”

“They should offer genuine Japanese nopan-shabushabu instead.”

“Am I unpatriotic for never having done this?”

“Who cares, let them enjoy themselves. By Japanese standards this is pretty tame. No doubt we thought of it.”

“Stop playing with your food, gaijin!”

“This is not culinary culture, it’s sex culture.”

“It’s not even sex culture, it’s prostitution culture. How is this culinary culture, you hairy barbarians?”

“Nyotaimori is obviously totally gross but has such a high profile, I wonder why?”

“This just sounds disgusting and unclean.”

“I find the notion of doing this with a man particularly troubling.”

“That is seriously messed up.”

“I have my doubts as to whether the proprietor is Japanese.”

“More Koreans trying to ruin our image overseas!”

“Don’t worry – if this does spread all over the world, the Koreans will just claim they invented it anyway.”

“One of these shops opened in the US and annoyed a bunch of feminists – needless to say the staff were all Korean-Americans.”

“I don’t think this is Japanese at all. Japanese would not want to let the food get ruined by being heated up like that.”

“The decor of the shop is clearly Chinese, not Japanese:”

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“Also some of the menus have spelling problems and other mistakes… definitely run by Chinese rather than Japanese.”

“With the timing, I really would suspect this is designed to damage Japan’s reputation.”

“Warm sashimi is gross. Who’d want to eat that off a woman. Although I wouldn’t mind trying to grab her nipples with chopsticks…”

“Sushi is ruined by getting heated up. And are they sterilising the person’s body completely? You’d surely get food poisoning from all the bacteria on the skin.”

“If you think about it, serving up sushi or sashimi on a human body is simply grotesque.”

“Obviously this is just made up to appeal to a few weird fetishists or as a novelty. Anyone can see it would ruin the taste.”

“Don’t deny it just because it’s a bit shady – it probably is Japanese.”

“Just where did this originate? My guess is some porn movie.”

“I do remember seeing something about this in some porn mag back in the eighties. I guess that is where it came from.”

“As with nopan-shabushabu, only people whose minds were warped by the bubble would connect food and sex in this way.”

“But who else would think of something like this but the Japanese?”

“Well done to anyone who can stand eating like that. This’d never fly in Japan, we are too fastidious about cleanliness.”

“If this really is Japanese, then it came out of some sex district’s brothel somewhere. It’s best not to confuse it with some kind of ‘traditional culture.’”

“It came from Japanese copying what they saw in some English SM party, that’s all.”

“This isn’t culinary culture at all, you stupid foreigners.”

“Foreigners are the real hentai here, not us.”

“Foreigners are too smelly to do this, but it might work with Japanese.”

“The skin of foreign women is unclean and quite unsuitable for nyotaimori.”

“Where can you actually do this in Japan? I wouldn’t mind trying.”

“Are there even any shops doing this in Japan? It is pretty suspect.”

“I think it would actually be illegal in Japan – we have food hygiene laws here, don’t we?”

“I don’t think Japan can really complain – for years we called ‘soaplands’ ‘Turkish baths’ until they persuaded us to stop.”

“Right. Although I would like to see the nopan places revived.”

“I wouldn’t mind eating pizza or spaghetti off the body of an Italian girl…”

“I suppose nobody has posted this yet:”

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“The real problem here is not introducing wakamezake as well.”

“Can we please just stick to nopan-shabushabu?”

“Wakamezake will be next!”

“I don’t think this is really worth protesting about, but I’d like to tip off Sankaku about it and see what the foreigners think.”

For those wondering, nopan-shabushabu is a genuinely Japanese bubble-era dining experience which involved mirrored floors and waitresses bereft of underwear, and was known to be a favourite of Japanese bankers and the ministry of finance…


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