Naked Sushi Makes Waves in Vancouver

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons | Think Draw

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons | Think Draw

Naked sushi has come to Vancouver.

The Japanese practice of nyotaimori – serving sushi on a naked body – is said to have its origins in the samurai period in Japan.  Of late, it’s spread to North America, with restaurants and caterers from Toronto to Las Vegas offering diners the chance to pluck their maki and sashimi off of models.

And now even Vancouver is getting in on the act, according to a story by Mia Stainsby in the Vancouver Sun.  A unique catering company is offering the service to clients in the city interested in experiencing the practice.  Of course, it’s not without controversy. Since the Vancouver Sun article was published, the blogosphere has come alive with posts and comments criticizing nyotaimori as degrading to the models and possibly even in violation of health standards.

But how does it all really work? In traditional nyotaimori, the model is generally expected to lie still at all times and not talk with guests.  The sushi itself is placed on sanitized leaves on the model’s body, so there’s no skin-to-fish contact.  Apparently, the challenge is finding sufficiently flat areas of the body so the sushi doesn’t just roll off.  (In case you’re wondering, the Vancouver company’s models are, in fact, “nearly naked,” with flowers and leaves taped in strategic places.)

An example of nyotaimori (not taken in Vancouver). Photo credit: Angie | Flickr

An example of nyotaimori. Photo credit: Angie | Flickr

Guests, in turn, are expected to observe the strictest decorum. Talking with the models is highly discouraged.  Inappropriate gestures or comments aren’t tolerated and diners can only pick up sushi with chopsticks.

The naked sushi catering company popped up in Vancouver in July, after operating since 2010 in Toronto.  According to the Sun article, their sushi is first prepared in a licensed restaurant before being plated on their models.  True to Vancouver’s reputation for cheap sushi, prices seem to be relatively reasonable, starting as low as $20 per person with a minimum of 12 guests. (Bento boxes, apparently, cost extra, with prices rising as high as $85/person.)

Given the outcry over nyotaimori in Vancouver, it’s not clear how long naked sushi will be on local menus.  But for the moment, it’s put Vancouver in the international dining spotlight, with reports featured everywhere from Fox News to the LA Times.

What do you think about nyotaimori? Let us know below. 

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4 Responses to Naked Sushi Makes Waves in Vancouver

  1. Susan Davis

    This makes me sad. A woman reduced to a serving platter. I would not eat at such a restaurant.

  2. Sharon Hollas

    Although this might be part of the culture in Japan, the degradation of women is the degradation of women, no matter what, no matter what kind of spin you put on it! Disgusting, to say the least.

  3. I do not see how the above two posters find this degrading to women. The model choose to pose in this fashion and to some this is considered art. I have been to parties where both male and female models are on display and it makes for a fun twist on serving a type of food that is masterfully created.

    After the party speaking to the models they both love what they do and find it helps them in their craft of acting.

  4. D.

    Everyone just needs to relax and stop injecting their self righteous spin on how we all should live .