I have never done this, nor seen it live because I guess I just don't seem cool enough or goofy enough to warrant an invitation.
I've eaten a lot of weird things in Japan - most of which I have enjoyed... but I really don't see the need for or use of having a live naked female as my dinner table.
As me as a guest - sure... though looking at the image above, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be hungry for more.
Nyotaimori is known as body sushi.
In case there's a naked male dinner table, the Japanese have a name for that, too - Nantaimori (男体盛り.
No lest one think this was something created by the Japanese version of Hugh Hefner (Playboy) or Bob Guccioni (Penthouse), this decadent dinner setting owes it origins to the what I read was the so-called samurai period... but that is pretty damn wide... but let's just say that it's from around 1000 to 500 years old. It was supposed to have been offered as a victory celebration for samurai warriors at a geisha house.
Please note, that at no time is the table obligated to have sex with the diners. In fact, it's just not done, because in the case of Nyotaimori, the living table is just a table.
By the way, sushi itself isn't a Japanese origin, as it does indeed owe its start to Thailand, where fish was salted and packed in rice to preserve it longer than a couple of days in the time before refrigeration. The Japanese, however, may have perfected the art - or at least if you ask them, they have. I can't argue. Aside from the weak California sushi roll, I've only ever had Japanese-style sushi.
Now... unless truly gauche, the food is placed upon sanitized (washed) leaves, so the food does not touch the flesh of the table.
Prior to all that, of course, the living tableau is required to wash themselves properly with scentless soap and then end with a cool bath - you want your sushi on a cool platter to better preserve its delicate flavor.
They must also be able to lie very, very still - not talking or interacting with the patrons in any way - and be able to withstand the coldness of the meal served upon them. Again, flatter surfaces are best... so while a 'plate' of food may be placed upon say, a woman's breasts, it would be best for the diners if she didn't have pointy or puffy nipples. At least that's my take on things.
Now, while I don't see the point of having so much fricking money that you need to show off by having a body table - so what the heck do I know - but many people see the whole thing as objectifying the woman or man acting as the table.
There are, of course, two ways of looking at things - which is my specialty in this blog - yes, it objectifies the man or woman doing the table thing.
But, no one is making the person play the part of the table. This is a job, and one that requires a bit of training and self-control. The person is also being paid for the job as living sushi table.
These are generally models, doing the work. And it is work.
We can argue until the cows come home, whether or not a person would need to do this job if Nyotaimori did not exist or whether Nyotaimori would STILL exist if there wasn't anyone willing to play the role of dinner table. The point is, both exist, like it or not.
I am unsure of the rules, but I am pretty sure the dinner guests need not be naked, too.
I'm not sure how I would react to having a naked woman as my dinner table... but, I'd probably embarrass myself with a boner as I reached over to chopstick some unagi (eel) sushi - my favorite, poking her in the eye and causing the table to upset itself.
Still, while I am unsure of the dining rules of etiquette, I am pretty sure the dinner guests need not be naked, too.
Somewhere making a point,
Andrew (I'll clear the table) Joseph