N is for Nyotaimori
Today’s class was packed with further information to cover the letter N, but to follow, the practical was a bit different. In order to show our appreciation for Master Haruki, we were to demonstrate what we had learnt about Nyotaimori. Although being completely different to the way I had expected the day to turn out, it was actually a lot of fun. Not only were we to be used as models to serve the food, we also had to make it. I had only had one quick attempt at making sushi in the past, but it was a skill that I felt happy to have, so I embraced the chance to learn about how to prepare, as well as how to serve.
Having worked away busily in the kitchens, we retired to wash and get ready for the evening. The hall was set with tables covered in cloths of different colours, and there was a table for drinks at one end. I assumed that was where the teachers would congregate before moving out to sample something tastier. I found my table and climbed up, arranging myself in a position which I thought I could hold, as well as one which would make me a good platter. Although we had prepared the food, we were clearly not able to place it on ourselves so help was had from the kitchen for that.
I wished I could have seen how we all looked as we waited for the guests to arrive. It was really odd not being able to see what was happening and to be so much part of the meal, and yet not really have a part in it at all. I ached but managed to keep my position and after a while it seemed to get easier. I became more detached from the general hubbub around the room, and started to focus on the food on my body. It itched but I wanted to do well, not wanting to let my teachers down or offend Master Haruki. I thought about what I had learnt so far and how much it had all changed me.
It felt surreal to be lying there, naked and adorned with food which people would soon eat from me. I felt exposed but also shocked that I had willingly put myself forward for this. I giggled slightly inside at the thought of what my friends and family would say if they could see me now. They really would not expect it. I was drawn suddenly from this thought, becoming aware of people next to me. I recognised some of the faces and felt a flame of embarrassment tear through me as one of the women lifted a piece of sushi from my breast, grazing my nipple with her fingers.
“Delicious,” she said, and I could not tell whether she was looking at me or through me.
The surreal nature of the Nyotaimori experience continued for the duration and it combined with a deep sense of peace, and a thrill at what was happening. It was not easy to describe and I have probably not done it justice here. I enjoyed it and loved the camaraderie that it build up between us as a group. Something tells me that the changes in me mean that I will need friends who understand my new life, and I know that I have the beginnings of some great friendships right here.
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