“Packages” and Packaging
Food is inherently erotic. We often use words to describe a great meal that could just as easily be used to detail a great lay: “juicy,” “sinful,” and that favorite term of wine connoisseurs “mouth-feel.”
While countries all over the world have developed their own unique rituals that showcase the complex relationship between eating and eating out, perhaps no country has such a diverse range of erotic food connections as Japan. From breast-enhancing fruit drinks, to the traditional practice of eating sushi from the body of a beautiful naked woman, sex and food have merged in some unique and fascinating ways in the Land of the Rising Sun. But what are these “weird” practices? And what does our fascination with them say about us?
Popsy, a vanilla-carmel liqueur, has earn a cult following for it's rather unique bottle and adorable company mascot: a single, grinning sperm who declares: “I'm coming!” It's actually manufactured in Europe but without a doubt, this cheerful sperm plays to the Japanese love of all things kawaii (a term that refers to anything cute, from puppies to anime characters to shoes).
The Bigger They Are...
But food and beverages shaped like sexual organs aren’t the only example of Japan’s tendency to blend the edible with the erotic. Some Japanese products actually claim to be able to increase the size of the breasts or penis.
One of these products is Okkikunare, a brand of juice drinks that come in flavors like mango and peach (shown above). The drinks are marketed to young girls using cheerful cartoon mascots, and claim to be able to increase breast size because they contain a soy-based additive that has been shown to stimulate growth in plants. The phrase “Okkikunare” literally means “make them bigger!” in Japanese.
The women of Japan can also purchase gum guaranteed to increase cup size. Known as “Bust-up!”, this gum contains extracts from the Pueraria mirifica (Kwao Krua) plant, which allegedly helps to promote the growth of breasts. While the gum promises to improve both shape and tone, it seems unlikely that women will opt for a chewing gum over plastic surgery (although with a recession looming overhead, perhaps the gum company has the right idea!).
Meanwhile, another gum on the market targets the insecurities of the average Japanese man. Suplitol Tongkat Ali Gum for Men claims to increase circulation, which in turn (allegedly) increases the size of a man’s penis.
While these kinds of products crop up in America from time to time, they are never overtly marketed to children (as with the breast-enhancing drink), and more often than not are sold in pill form, rather than as a food or beverage. Perhaps the proliferation of these “enhancement” products has something to do with the difference in attitudes between Eastern and Western medicine. While medicine in the East often relies on herbs or holistic treatments, most people in the West believe that only pills made by a pharmaceutical company can be effective.
Sushi in the Raw and Sake Body Shots
But gums, candies, and fruity drinks are just the tip of the sex-food iceberg. If you're interested in the more creative and artistic examples of suggestive food practices, you will need to look into Japan's past. Once traditional, the practice of eating sushi off the body of a naked, nubile female form is almost unheard of in modern Japan. The Japanese call it nyotaimori, which literally means “female body presentation”. The sushi is artfully arranged on the body of a naked woman, strategically covering her most private parts. The practice came to the attention of the mainstream West after appearing in movies like Sex and the City and Rising Sun. Sometimes known in the West as “body sushi”, advocates of nyotaimori say that in addition to the obvious appeal of eating in front of a beautiful naked woman, the heat of her body raises the temperature of the sushi, allowing diners to appreciate subtle nuances in flavor that are sometimes lost when eating very cold sushi.
The practice is very rare, although some restaurants outside of Japan are engaging in this controversial dining presentation, much to the dismay of some feminist activists. Still, according to one Japanese model who has taken part in the practice, "It was a show promoted as a special event. It was used as a kind of ice-breaker intended to draw laughs [and used mostly for promotional purposes]...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."
While nyotaimori might be the most notorious Japanese example of erotic dining, it is by no means the only one. Another rare and controversial sexual dining practice that originated in Japan is wakamezake. In the words of Wikipedia, wakamezake is “a sexual act involving drinking alcohol from a woman's body. The woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman's pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed (wakame being the Japanese word for seaweed) floating in the sea.”
Many people in the West think of Japan as a nation populated by perverts who buy used schoolgirl panties from vending machines, watch tentacle-rape cartoons, and purchase pleasure from blushing geishas. These perceptions are no more reflective of Japanese culture on the whole than stories of Catholic priest sex abuse scandals or celebrity sex tapes are reflective of American culture.
Okay, so penis-shaped lollipops would never be sold at a county fair in America (at least, not without making some people very angry). That's part of the reason why it's so interesting to learn about Japan's unique combinations of food and feasting.
Japan has combined food and sex in many ways: some are funny, others are merely 21st century snake oil, and a rare few are actually arousing. But whatever view you take, Japan is a country with a unique way of combining two of life's great pleasures.