A dakimakura (‘daki’ means ‘to embrace or cling’ + and ‘makura’ means ‘pillow’, also called Dutch wife, is a type of large pillow from Japan. The word is often translated in English simply as ‘hug pillow.’ In Japan, dakimakura are similar to Western orthopedic body pillows, and are commonly used by Japanese youth as ‘security objects.’ In the West, ‘dakimakura’ is associated with a love pillow. Love pillows are a subset of dakimakura and a type of inflatable sex toy. They usually have life-size pictures of anime characters or pornographic film actors, often in suggestive poses.

During the 1990s, dakimakura began to intertwine with otaku culture (a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests), leading to the production of pillow covers featuring printed images of bishōjo (‘beautiful young girls’) and their male counterparts, bishonen, from various anime or Bishōjo game. Many of these early otaku dakimakura covers were released through Cospa, a character goods and apparel store which continues to release official dakimakura covers to this day. Although sometimes called a Dutch wife, the original definition of this phrase is closer to the chikufujin.

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