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Dakimakura (translated as “hug pillow” in English), also known as “Dutch Wife,” is a type of large pillow mainly used by the Japanese youth as a security object. While the bedding itself is not considered a sex object, the term has become closely associated with a subset of adult-themed “love pillows,” which feature life-size graphic prints of scantily-clad anime characters or adult film stars.
Hug pillows have existed in the Japanese culture for decades, mostly in the form of oversized stuffed animals and character merchandises for children and adolescent, however during the 1990s, a distinctly adult-themed subset of pillows known as “body pillows” or “dutch wives” became available as dakimakura began to intertwine with the Otaku culture, leading to the production of pillow covers featuring graphic prints of bishōjo and bishonen characters from popular anime and video games, and even life-size photographs of adult film stars. Many of the early Otaku body pillows were distributed through Cospa, a Japanese character merchandise retail chain.
Due to the large-scale presence of Otakus in Japanese online communities, the phenomenon quickly spread across various message boards frequented by hardcore anime fans, including 2chan and Pixiv among many others. Shortly after the establishment of online communities for Dakimakura collectors and designers, Dakimakura gradually began seeping into the mainstream, though often pitted as a negative stereotype of the Otaku subculture. Despite its categorization as a sex toy, these pillows are also frequently purchased as a popular “joke gift” or party novelty item. Other less common novelty love dolls include overweight, transgender, elderly and alien dolls, which are usable for pleasure but also tend to be given as gag gifts.
In its early days, the majority of custom graphic designs for dakimakura characters were uploaded to and shared via anime-themed websites and communities, though numerous online shops specializing in love pillows and material love dolls (MLDs) began to pop up during the 2000s. Over time, usage of dakimakura as a sex toy became a running joke both within and outside of the Otaku subculture, even inspiring a series of parody designs featuring alien, elderly or overweight characters.
Dinner With Waifu
Dinner with Waifu (Japanese: 嫁との晩餐, Yome To No Bansan), also known as “Otaku Dates”, refers to an annual event that takes place in Japan on Christmas Eve during which users on the Japanese textboard 2channel share photographs of themselves enjoying dinner with their favorite anime character known as a “waifu.” The photographs typically show food placed in front of a monitor or body pillow with the character’s likeness on it.