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Firewife: A Story of Fire and Water; Nyotaimori Body Sushi

Patty has successfully reviewed thousands of books, films, products, and vacation/retirement cities around the world.

Sushi in the Modern World

While rare in Japan and banned in some parts of China, body sushi, or Nyotaimori is becoming popular in the USA since the end of 2007. The practice outside of the USA has been humiliating and almost a form of human trafficking for poor females.

At first in the USA, female and male models were totally nude under the mountainous servings of sushi balanced around their shaved and bathed bodies. After 2011, women in the US could be scene in high fashion bras and panties under the food items.

Beginning in West Hollywood, body sushi is available as a service of private catering companies in such locales as Dallas, Fort Worth, and Atlanta in the South.

Minnesota has also experimented with Nyotaimori restaurants, as have several other American locations with varying success (see the video below).

The story of Fire Wife highlights the practice of Nyotaimori and its resultant social problems concerning the status of women in Asian and third world countries.

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Seattle and Minneapolis

A Seattle attempt to bring female body presentation sushi to the public failed in 2003 amid protests from women's groups.

One restaurant in Minnesota currently serves Body Sushi to groups of 6 for $150 or more per person.

Male and female models are used, their total body hair shaved and bodies washed in non-scented soap.

These models that work as sushi tables are paid $100/hour and work for 75 minutes at a time (as of 2010), during which they may not move or speak.

Life Changing Backpacking Journey

The author TingIing Choong backpacked through Asia on the Wellesley College Stevens Traveling Fellowship. On the journey, she observed women throughout the nations she visited. Moved forcefully by some of the things she witnessed, she immeidately began writing stories ignited in her by these events and people. While fictional, they are about circumstances that exist in reality across the globe and not just in Asian and third world countries.

The writing of this book spurred by her experiences in the fellowship and by her childhood in Malaysia led Choong to advocate for women's and children's rights, but more importantly, for all Human Rights around the world. Her husband encouraged her to publish and supports her further writings to be published in 2008. Their baby daughter will grow up with this type of care, her rights as a human being protected and her life encouraged to the fullest.

FireWife: A Story Of Fire and Water, by Tingling Choong

Tingling Choong is a unique and dramatic writer from a background of diversities all within herself. She writes to understand and uses her writing to tie the entire universe together. She unites global diversities, the inside, and the outside of things into a whole. It is a sort of process in which traditional directions are joined together: the North South, East, West, Center, Above, and Below.

Being aware and of some experience with Asian thought and Indigenous creation stories and cultures, as well as with the plight of abused individuals of all diversities and abused groups in the world of yesterday and today, I knew exactly what she was saying in FireWife. The chapters tie together a creation story, some horrors from the 1950s, odd events of the 21st century, and the circumstances of women around the world that have suffered poverty and loss, misunderstanding, and/or maltreatment.

The stories within this novella are riveting. It is difficult to believe that these things could be happening in the 21st century as well as the 19th century, but they are/have been. Two readings are likely required, because the first one may be shocking to some readers. Details can be picked up in the second and it's a quick, energetic read. One story is based on a real-life child prostitute in Bangkok.

Another chapter was spurred by the author seeing a woman being used, naked, as a restaurant table in a sushi bar. Yet another came about from witnessing a poor woman in an Asian country that had leased her forehead out for tampon advertising. The other stories contain treatment and conditions that are equally as degrading.

The Education of Tingling Choong

Choong was raised in Muslim Malaysia, but is Chinese. Her parents were born there after both sets of their own parents moved to Malaysia when it was a Colony of the British Crown. Choong experienced both Chinese and Malaysian cultures at once. Today she writes about all Asians and ties them together with Creation as she lives in Vermont, USA.

Choong graduated, as did Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Wellesley College. Then she worked for several years as a consultant , married Tseming Yang, and returned to academia to pursue a PhD in Chinese Literature at Yale. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton also graduated from Yale.

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More interesting is the fact that Mrs. Clinton has been a long-term advocate for women's and children's rights around the world, including anti-abuse programs; and so is Tingling Choong. On these three fronts, the two women are alike.

Choong writes poetry in Chinese and English, and paints canvases. Her mother and at least one brother paints as well. All of the canvases are interesting.

Fire and Water

FireWife begins with some mythology and the narration of the spirit girl Lakshmi of India. Of the lowest caste, she was murdered for standing up to the men in her household (a higher caste) and refusing to be raped by her brother-in-law. He poured kerosene over her and lit it, later claiming it to be an accident. In a sort of spirit limbo, she took the fire to be her own spiritual sign - the yang strength from a sort of yin/yang duology.

Lakshmi appears in dreams to a female photographer known as Nin, who is studying six Asian women and through producing their photo portraits, understands herself more fully.

This book focuses on how women around the world, especially their world countries and Asian nations, handle the phenomenon of female abuse.

At one time, the wife in a Korean family was the least-prized possession, though definitely a possession and not a person - "last, after the dog dish," I used to call it. All money and property were held by the husband and the eldest son. In the Japan of the late 1980s - 1990s, young women were refusing to marry, seeking out a more independent lifestyle. No bound feet or Geisha occupation for them.

Tingling Choong tells the tales of six woman in uncomfortable circumstances. First, however, she presents a Chinese Creation Story with her own interesting additions. In the Universe was a sort of Egg of Time. Inside it, was a woman that represented all that is female and reactive in the Universe. This was the Goddess Nuwa.

The egg cracked and she pushed apart its halves to create the heavens and the earth from the shells. For the earth, she also created people, but she formed 8 kinds of women - four of Fire and four of Water, these elements being opposites or yang and yin types. In Chinese thought, Fire and Water fight one another constantly.

Individuals that have been abused sometimes feel "different" or "unique" - even special. In FireWife, these feelings spur women to seek out the spirit of Nuwa somehow and join with her to become one with the superiority of the Creator - powerful in Fire, which is a strong, forceful yang element. Water is yin - often yielding and soft, unless it is a rushing flooded river. To become a FireWife is to embrace Womanhood and the Goddess in oneself, along with sexuality as a life force - 4 parts Fire, 1 part Water.

Finding the True Self

Nin seems to reconcile her subjects' pain by embracing it and accepting it as part of a universal female experience. She studied these women because she needed to find herself as well, having left her corporate job and her husband temporarily to go on such an expedition. She needed to find and understand her Self in order to be true to herself. She wanted to live a true life. Understanding the lives of women globally helped her to do that, just as it likely helped the author to do so.

There is a superstition that a camera will release a person's spirit through a photograph - it will then be free, free from abuse and from the body and from the world. However, as Nin snaps photos of her six subjects, she frees herself somehow instead. That experience, along with the dreams and visions of Lakshmi coordinate to bring a new level of life to Nin. This includes images that bring to mind the flight of some mythical firebird, representing freedom of spirit. This is both physical and sexual freedom that comes through spiritual empowerment. It is the power of Nuwa, femininity, and fire. The final empowerment seems to be though a type of symbolic lesbian sex, if only in imagery and visions, in which the dreamer joins with Lakshmi, thereby joining with Nuwa and life itself from the beginning of the Egg.

This is a feminist book, but one that can be appreciated by both men and woman for its stance against poverty and violation of human rights around the world. It contains some startling images and coarse languages, but is a powerful presentation of the light of abused and impoverished peoples - not only women.



  • Choon, Tinling. FireWife. Anchor Publishing, April 2008.
  • Zhao, Ban. Instructions for Chinese Women and Girls. Camphor Press Ltd; June 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 26, 2012:

Nyotaimori, Body Sushi, is becoming more popular in the Untied States. These human tables are now even allowed to wear some underwear in some establishments. In other nations, this practice is still considered demeaning.

Nadine M AuCoin from Fort McMurray on February 12, 2011:

Very informative and well written, thank-you.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 28, 2008:

More individuals are responding to this book and the Hub article than I imagined would do so. I think more people are willing to look into these types of occurences in the 21st century, in order to learn about them and because they have learned of them, will help to correct them. The author is writing another book soon, I believe.

Thanks for reading, phantom_mooon.

phantom_moon from Sacramento California America on May 28, 2008:

What an excellent article to a hub question. I guess no matter where you live you can always find abuse. But this is just sick and appauling. Every woman should read this wonderful article you painstakingly took the time to write for us and then go buy the book Firewife. I know I will on my next trip to Barnes and Noble. Enlightening the world through education and love should be the goal of every free thinking person on the planet. Maybe then such travesties will come to an end. Thank you so much for this enlightenment :)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 29, 2008:

I hope and pray that it does end. The more of this that is exposed and discusses, the better chance we have of ending it, imo.

Thanks for you visit, sharikraemer73!

sharikraemer73 on April 29, 2008:

Will it ever end?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 29, 2008:

Thank you sentinal. Everyone can benefit from your comments.

sentinal on April 28, 2008:

wow what a review thank you so much. It is so sad that we humans have never learnt to just be and enjoy each others company. Why some of us want to subjugate another human being is beyond me.

I hope that the new century will bring enlightened thoughts to all of us mankind

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 28, 2008:

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read about this, Hazok.

Hazok from Malaysia on April 28, 2008:

Excellent review.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 27, 2008:

Yes, whenever I think I have seen it all, I find something else. Money-seeking is often the root of it, as you say.

Frank from Montana on April 27, 2008:

A bunch of sick people running around the world,just to make a buck.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 27, 2008:

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this review. I could not stop thinking about it. I wonder what else the author saw on her long backpacking journey through Asia? She included less than 10 stories, but they are powerful ones and I know there are many more out there. Choong was raised in Malaysia, so it was brave to travel all over Asia, including into China. The thought of these enslaved bands of disabled children in Beijing, all set to meet visitors to the Olympics in Summer 2008 by force is appalling.

Bozyslawa on April 27, 2008:

Patty, what a fantastic find! what great thoughts you put into your expose, what depth of feeling, what humanity in your heart! I knew about evil being rampant in our times, but what you are bringing to our attention is one of the most appaling revelations of obscene abuses of male power and use of money against women.

Please accept a most special thank you for your important find and your great way with words to bring it to us. Lots of thanks, and blessings are sent your way.

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on April 26, 2008:

Excellent review. Donna

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on April 26, 2008:

Fantastic review Patty. I hate the thought of such abuse.

great hub again regards Zsuzsy

courtsantos from Seatlle, WA on April 26, 2008:

It's hard to think that things like this still happens around the world. The young are innocent and should remain that way.

FoursX2 from Laguna Niguel, CA on April 26, 2008:

Super Review!

Bonnie Ramsey from United States on April 26, 2008:

This sounds like an interesting and heartwrenching book. Thanks for the excellent review!


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