Sex And Kimonos: Step Back In Time To A Saucy Ancient Japan

Sex And Kimonos: Step Back In Time To A Saucy Ancient Japan

"Do you think they are lesbians?" asks Takayo. She is showing us a picture of two naked women, one of whom is pointing an enormous strap-on cock at the other woman's vagina. Um, yes? "No, you see, all the women lived together without any men, so that is why they are doing this." Oh…

I am in a lantern lit room in Stoke Newington, and Takayo, who was born and raised in Japan, is telling us about the Japanese ancient Edo period, which she describes as bursting with "unabashed naughtiness." The event, Floating World is a follow-on from Takayo's kimono parties, and aims to recreate, "a mysterious teahouse in the twisting alleys of an ancient red light district."

I'm dressed in a kimono at the start of the evening. Photo: Dee

A dozen of us sit at a table wearing kimonos that Takayo imported from Japan. We drink plum wine and pick at edamame beans while Takayo regales us with the saucy bits of Japanese history to keep our dirty minds amused.

I've just accepted that the women were all at it with each other, when Takayo adds, almost as an afterthought, "the women had husbands, but they only visited once a week." Um, what? How highly-sexed were they? I think I'd be OK with shagging my husband once a week, without needing a random dicking from a woman with a dildo.

I'm just reassessing my own sex drive when one of the other women at the table says, "Once a week? That’s enough isn’t it?" Feeling validated, I declare that I agree. My friend Dee — my co-conspirator for the evening — chimes in, "Once a month is enough for me."

Photo: Takayo

"We’re learning so much tonight!" says Areiel, a Californian man who's here with his uni-age son, Artemis. Above us, there's a string of saucy postcards hung like bunting and Takayo encourages us to take a closer look. They are Shunga, she explains, using the word for Japanese erotic art from that time.

I stand up and see a drawing of a naked woman being 'erotically eaten' by an octopus, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Michael Gove. His tentacles are all over her, while his bulbous eyes leer above her crotch, which his mollusc mouth has clamped down on. "I'm not sure I'll feel quite the same about eating octopus," I say. "In Japan, the octopus eats you" says Artemis.

Takayo tells us Shunga was nearly unheard of in mainstream Japanese culture until relatively recently. She only really discovered it herself at a 2013 exhibition at the British Museum, which brought together Shunga collections from all over the world. "It's very good for couples," says Takayo, giving us a nod and a wink. Artemis embraces the awkwardness by putting his arm round his dad. God knows how he's getting through this without crawling inside his own ballsack, but hats off to him, because I can barely sit through an episode of Sherlock with my parents.

This position is called "Mountain sparrow drops its food." Photo: Samantha Rea

In between our sushi starter and our chicken main, Takayo tells us there are stories behind each picture and we got to act them out. Chrissy, who's come along with two male friends, is given the story of a woman who's rogered while sitting on a horse, as another man watches. "Yes, that's it, it's in," says Chrissy to Glen who's playing the horseman. "I don't need a fee," he assures her, charitably, as Jamie who's playing the sex spy notes, "I've got to admit this horseman has a big one." I fear I may never fully regain my ability to breathe.

Chrissy, Glen and Jamie, however, take it in their stride. "The role play's the best thing so far," says Glen the horseman, adding, "We all like a bit of filth!" Chrissy says it's great that, "Everyone round the table has a dirty mind — I mean, an interest in Japan." While Jamie the sex spy remarks, "Everyone else is on dates — we're polyamorous for the night."

Dee is dressed in her kimono for the night. Photo: Takayo

Joanna is here with her boyfriend, who wants to be referred to as "The Man in the Red Underwear." This is his role in the story behind a picture showing a man in a sumo-style red g-string who's about to penetrate a woman who's legs-akimbo in a kimono. "You clothe some parts to highlight other parts," says Takayo, explaining why the woman is all covered up except for her rude bits, which have been drawn in enough detail to depict her labia.

Looking forward to his starring role, Joanna's Boyfriend (as I'll call him, to avoid confusion with his character) says, "That's my favourite picture so I'm quite happy — I'm approaching it with relish." JB's lines include: "It's already poking its face out and I don't want to waste it. Come on, I can't control this." Afterwards, he tells me, "I loved it. It's not fair — I wanted an entire paragraph!" Joanna, who had no idea what she was coming to this evening, looks rather relieved it's over.

Photo: Dee

My big moment is in the dildo lesbian scene. I find this out when we're handed booklets of Shunga pictures, and mine has a sticker inside saying, "Man pretended by a woman." I am to play the woman who receives the dildo, while Dee plays the woman who dicks me. Looking at the drawing of Dee's character, who's wearing the dildo on a belt round her hips, Takayo says, "Where would you tie it if you were by yourself?" I am stumped, and from the silence, it seems the others are too. "On your ankle," reveals Takayo. As she leaves us to work out the logistics, there's a minute of stunned silence as we mull over the prospect of fucking yourself with your own leg.

"Without the cream, this big one would not go in," screams Dee in her role as "Woman with a cream." I am literally dying as I urge Dee to, "Hurry up and put it in." I think I may actually be dead. "I've known you 20 years and I'm not sure I'll ever look at you again," says Dee, who is also dead now. It is possibly the funniest and most mortifying moment of my life (and I have spent an entire evening at naturist sex spa Rio’s).

You will never again look at the red mask emoji in the same way. Photo: Samantha Rea

Making our way through the booklet of pictures, in which all the men have enormous erections, Takayo points to an almost naked man whose penis is the size of the Eiffel Tower. "He's holding something, what is it?" she asks. "Well it's not the bible" shouts Tom, whose girlfriend Louise bought them tickets when she was looking for an immersive dining experience.

After the role plays, we all do a nice bit of tracing. This is very relaxing and I start to understand why adult colouring is a thing. Only, our tracing is 'adult' in every sense of the word, as we are of course tracing saucy Shunga pictures. We've each been given an envelope along with our tracing paper. Are we meant to send this to someone? "Not if you want to be friends with them," says Artemis, taking a look at the big black dildo I've drawn with a felt tip. Helpfully, Areiel explains that the envelope is for discretion on the tube journey home.

Dee and I read our scripts... Photo: Takayo

At the end of the evening, Artemis tells me it was, "Weird but fun," and Areiel chips in to say, "What made it cool was the table of people, although, I didn't realise it was going to be this graphically focused." Dee pipes up, "It'll give you two plenty to talk about!" To which Areiel replies, "Some of which we probably never want to." My sympathies are with Artemis when he turns to his dad and says: "Let’s pretend this night never happened."

Tom tells me, "I really liked tonight because I learnt about Japanese history. And the porn. I liked the porn and the role play." Louise, who enjoyed dressing up in a kimono, also liked the role play, explaining, "I felt comfortable afterwards because I knew it couldn’t get any worse than that."

Photo: Takayo

The atmosphere is brilliant, pretty much the entire table agrees that the night has been hilarious, and I've developed quite a penchant for the plum wine. However, I can't shake the feeling that I'm about to be dogpiled by people online for wearing a kimono.

Photo: Takayo

So I ask Takayo, is it alright that I wore a kimono? She says, “I personally love it when Western people dress up in kimono, because they are interested in another culture, and they are enjoying it. In Japan, where Japanese people are fond of Western people, they have parties for dressing-up — they dress in Victorian costumes, like corsets and ball gowns. I don't see why people would think it's inappropriate to wear a different culture's costume. It's to do with fantasy — it makes you feel transported into a different world. The feeling is good and I love that."

You can sign up for Takayo’s next Floating World evening here.

Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here.

Last Updated 01 June 2018