34 Questions About Dakimakura Pillows, Including Why They Are Called Weird

Dakimakura Pillows

Originating in 1990s Japan, Dakimakura pillows are to the modern world what heavy metal was to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Although it might not be a fair comparison, the parallels are pretty uncanny.

Some Japanese and weebs who’ve been collectively losing their minds over them consider them blasphemous, weird, and more of a taboo. For them, people who own these pillows are creeps and freaks.

Then there’s another section that’s gone gaga over them and thinks they are unique, funny, and totally worth buying. They consider Dakimakura pillow owners badasses and heroes.

So, why this polarity in opinions? What’s behind their increasing cult following and mainstream success?

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This article addresses all your concerns and answers the most frequently asked questions about this pillow type show

What Is a Dakimakura Pillow, Anyway?

Dakimakura (抱き枕) is the Japanese term for a large, human-sized pillow (makura 枕) that can be hugged (daki 抱). Its Western equivalent is an orthopedic body pillow, although the two are starkly different.

Also known as the “waifu pillow,” a Dakimakura has two parts – the pillow and the pillowcase. The pillow varies according to the fill material used and the pillowcase varies according to the sleeper’s taste. From cute to kinky – they come in a wide variety!

Please keep in mind that takers of Dakimakura pillows are a few. However, they are no longer exclusive to Japan. They are now a cultural and global phenomenon, an “in thing” both men and women enjoy.

What Is Its Purpose?

Relatively new to the world of pillows, a Dakimakura’s purpose is largely to offer emotional support, which isn’t anything like that of normal body pillows designed purely for physical support.

Buy one if…

  • You’re an anime or manga fan (almost all Dakimakura pillowcases feature anime, manga, and video game characters).
  • You seek psychological comfort while sleeping (imagine children going to sleep hugging their favorite toy).
  • You’re into Otaku culture (and wish to show off the pillow as a status symbol).
  • You want your bedroom to ooze Japanese-level cuteness (in everything – from bed linen to curtains).
  • You’re looking for some nominal physical benefits (such as reduced pain in the lower back, neck, knee, hips, and shoulders).
  • You’re pregnant and want the pillow for additional support (while loving the feeling of hugging something cute).
  • You want to buy a unique gift (that can double as a sort of travel souvenir).

What Are Its Features?

A Dakimakura pillow has the following features:

  • A hidden zipper to keep the pillow in place and prevent zipper marks on the sleeper’s face.
  • A silky pillowcase printed on both sides with an anime, manga, video game character, or even real people.
  • Double-sided printed characters (front and back, different poses, different outfits, or two completely different characters)
  • A length of 160 cm, 150 cm, or 100 cm.

While the majority of Dakimakura pillowcase designs feature cute cartoon characters, some may feature adult images of characters in suggestive poses.

Furthermore, the featured art on these pillowcases might not always be official and might simply be fan art. After all, Dakimakura projects are increasingly being outsourced, with artists hired to create the designs.

Another thing to consider is the position of the printed characters, which are usually drawn lying down to give the impression that you’re holding them in that position while sleeping. This isn’t typical of traditional Dakimakura and is only used as a gimmick.

What’s the Reason Behind 100cm, 150cm, and 160cm Standard Sizes?

In Japan, traditional Dakimakura pillows have always been 160 cm long and weighed slightly more than 2 kg. But their popularity has skyrocketed over the years, enticing global eCommerce sites to include exclusive sections for this pillow type.

However, traditional Dakimakura’s international shipping costs were found to be nearly double those of Dakimukra, which weighed less. This had the potential to deter budget-conscious weebs from purchasing the product outside of Japan.

As a result, sizes were eventually shrunk to reduce shipping costs. This is how the world got two new sizes of Dakimakura pillows, measuring 150 cm and 100 cm and weighing less than 2 kg. These three sizes are now considered standard.

Do you ever wonder why there aren’t more standard sizes? The answer lies in how someone obsessed with Otaku culture perceives Dakimakura. Please keep in mind that these people are outright “collectors.” Their devotion to Otaku is consuming and often expressed through excessive spending.

So, someone who likes Dakimakura would buy every design (in this case, the pillowcase) they see – not because they like it or need it, but because adding it to their collection is cool.

Having pillows of various sizes could result in a waste of space and money, whereas sticking to one of the three pillow sizes would allow them to collect more pillowcases without spending too much money on the pillow itself.

What Was the First Dakimakura?

It is believed that the first anime Dakimakura case was manufactured by a Japanese company called “Cospa’ in the early 1990s. However, this claim is highly debatable because the company itself was established in 2001 to develop original cosmetics.

What we are guessing is that the plain form of the pillow type must have been around for a long time in Japan as a comfort object.

Somehow, the introduction of anime pillowcases coincided with the rise of the Otaku culture of the 1980s, which was spiraling out of control. As a result, it became an instant hit.

It’s worth noting that the entry of Dakimakura into the mainstream global market, especially in the USA, is pretty recent.

Why Are They Popular With Anime and Manga Fans?

Not all Dakimakura pillows are popular with anime and manga fans; only those with pillowcases featuring anime and manga characters are. The fans see them as a way to physically touch their favorite characters and sleep with them in the literal sense.

How Did It Connect to Japan’s Otaku Culture?

Before we answer this question, let’s understand the crux of Japan’s Otaku culture.

In Japanese, the word “otaku” once stood for a second-person pronoun that meant “your home.” Everything changed in the 1980s when an entire generation shifted mentality and consciously walked toward its inevitable social outcastdom.

This was also the time of Japan’s “amine boom” in which the newfangled subculture found a new home and a new obsession. Once labeled as “geeks” and “nerds,” these socially marginalized individuals began to refer to themselves as “Otaku,” unconcerned about their declining social standing.

Otaku quickly became a social phenomenon of die-hard fandom in Japan. As a result, when Dakimakura was introduced to the market in the 1990s, it quickly became the hobby horse of every anime-obsessed Otaku.

Dakimakura pillows were everywhere in various prints before anyone realized it. E-commerce boosted it even more, eventually catapulting it into mainstream culture.

Currently, the product’s popularity is a double-edged sword, similar to heavy metal during America’s Satanic Panic.

Why Aren’t Dakimakura Manga Pillows as Popular as Their Anime Equivalents?

The manga version of Dakimakura pillows is less popular than the amine version because anime itself is more popular than manga. Although both are equally loved in Otaku, the distinction is more pronounced among weebs, particularly in America.

One possible explanation is that Americans aren’t big readers. Unlike manga, which is a comic book read backward, anime includes music and sound effects, making it more enjoyable and easier to consume.

Furthermore, manga is about detailed stories, whereas anime is about the juicier bits. Thus, the characters weebs want on their Dakimakura reflect their preference for anime over manga.

Are Dakimakura Pillows Legit?

Traditional Dakimakura pillows are 100% legit. However, a pillowcase with loli characters in suggestive poses or with explicit nudity could be illegal.

We’re not here to preach, but rather to remind you of the law.

You could be prosecuted based on your country’s pornographic censorship and law, and you wouldn’t be able to defend yourself with any “it’s just a fantasy drawing” excuse whatsoever.

The general rule is that if you are not permitted to own it in your country, you are not permitted to purchase it.

For instance, Canada and France consider any suggestive depiction of a minor – real or imagined – to be child pornography and thus illegal. Similarly, child pornography is illegal in the US, but the country regulates “obscene” pornography and protects “indecent” pornography.

Japan, too, has established laws against the sale and distribution of pornographic material under Article 175 of the Criminal Code (1907).

Because some Dakimakura pillows are likely to depict hentai (Japanese porn) characters, such products may be seen as malicious, and the owner may face prosecution. It all boils down to how the featured art is (mis)interpreted!

Why Are They Considered Weird and Creepy?

Although there’s nothing wrong with Dakimakura pillows as such, they are considered weird and creepy for the following reasons:

  • Somehow they mess with the moral compass of a certain section of society. After all, not everyone enjoys avoiding real people in favor of sleeping with lifeless pillows for comfort.
  • The explicit use of cartoon characters in suggestive poses is considered immoral and, in some cases, illegal. This is a classic case of “because the law says so,” and a malum prohibitum offense deemed naturally evil by a civilized community. However, not all Dakimakura pillows feature such characters. But as the saying goes, when one part suffers, all parts suffer. 
  • Dakimakura is directly associated with the promotion of the already stigmatized Otaku culture – something that does not meet society’s standards for acceptable behavior. Because the pillows attract attention and controversy, they are assumed to be strange, strange, creepy, and all things odd.

In other words, the negativity surrounding Dakimakura pillows stems primarily from cultural paranoia, which leads some people to perceive it as cultural appropriation and something that should be censored.

The concept of Dakimakura has come under fire as more people become hysterical about the nonsense.

It is, in our honest opinion, harmless, but it may appear to be a mildly risque fetish (excuse us the unintended negative connotation). It would be wrong to judge lovers of the pillow based on personal moral high ground.

On the brighter side, Dakimakura is basking in its infamy and growing in popularity by the minute. Our suggestion is that if you like it, get it home. Everyone else who hates it can take a hike.

We see Dakimakura as nothing but the stuffed version of popular Otaku characters. As long as you aren’t doing anything weird – such as taking it out on a date, proposing to it, thinking of it as your wife, falling in love with it, or marrying it – it is perfectly normal!

Of course, our idea of weirdness is free from the possibility of you fapping to your Dakimakura. If you want to dry hump a stuffed cartoon printed on a pillow, so be it!

You paid for it; you’d know how to make the most of it…unless you are jerking off to child pornography. Then we might think of you as a perverted pedophile.

Which Are the Weirdest Dakimakura-Style Pillows?

Although we do not want to label any Dakimakura pillow as weird, here are some of the versions that are believed to be the craziest:

  • Dakimakura featuring Hentai that depicts child pornography
  • Dakimakura that comes with lady parts and a “love hole”
  • Dakimakura featuring Nicholas Cage in a bikini

How Are They Different From Western Body Pillows?

The terms are often used interchangeably in the West because Dakimakura and body pillows look similar in shape and size. However, they differ in the following aspects:

PurposeDakimakura PillowBody Pillow
Emotional SupportYesNo
Physical supportNoYes
Standard SizingYesNo
Related to OtakuYesNo
Recommended by OrthopedicsNoYes
Recommended by PsychologistsYesNo

Western body pillows are meant to promote optimal spinal alignment and prevent general discomfort while sleeping.

They are also helpful in managing blood circulation issues, muscle pain, snoring, and sleep apnea, which is why orthopedics often recommend them.

On the other hand, Japanese Dakimakura, as discussed earlier, is seen as a comfort object – much like a stuffed toy.

Furthermore, body pillows might come in a variety of sizes, but Dakimakura must always conform to the three standard sizes because that’s how the Otaku community wants it.

When talking about the benefits, Dakimakura cannot deliver the advantages a body pillow offers. They are just eye candy and collectibles designed to excite fans of anime and manga.

Are They Similar to Love Pillows?

A love pillow is essentially a large pillow that features a life-sized erotic print of a cartoon or human character in a suggestive pose. Such pillows may or may not be inflatable.

Therefore, an X-rated Dakimakura can be termed a love pillow. They are a subset: not all Dakimakura pillows are love pillows, and not all love pillows are Dakimakura either.

How Are They Different From Sex Dolls?

Sex dolls are human substitutes for anyone looking for sexual pleasure. They are life-sized dolls of latex designed with various facial expressions and usually closed eyes, which gives the owner the notion that they are ‘sleeping’ and seemingly unconscious.

Sex dolls are either shaped like the human body or fitted with the most basic human contours and genitalia. If we are to compare them with traditional Dakimakura, that would be like comparing apples to oranges.

However, in modern times, the line between them seems to be blurring. More and more Dakimakura pillows are being introduced in the market, which feature parts of the human body, especially the genitalia.

Nevertheless, a Dakimakura will always serve more purposes than a sex doll, especially when it comes to offering psychological and emotional support.

Are They Similar to Bamboo Wife and Dutch Wife?

Dakimakura is similar to the bamboo wife of yore, which is now obsolete. Currently, the term is used as a euphemism for Dakimakura pillows.

The Japanese bamboo wife (chikufujin) was a human-sized hollow-filled hand-woven cylindrical pillow made of thinly cut bamboo.

Because bamboo was cooler to the touch than fabric bed linen, it was used in East Asian and Southeast Asian homes to beat the summer heat. It’s a mystery how it got the English name “Dutch wife.”

The most popular legend has it that the pillow was “invented” in Indonesia by Dutch colonialists, which obviously does not appear to be true. This leads us to the next, more plausible theory.

Britain and Holland were at loggerheads over colonizing Southeast Asia in the 17th century, resulting in a series of Anglo-Dutch wars.

Britain eventually colonized the region and used the term “Dutch” for anything and everything fake, simply to keep the rivalry going. As a result, the bamboo pillow got a new name: the Dutch pillow.

Why Are They Called Waifu Body Pillows?

In Otaku culture, Waifu is a female anime, manga, or video game character who is romantically fantasized about or considered a significant other. Husbando is the male counterpart.

Because Dakimakura pillows feature such fictional characters and are typically used as comfort objects, they are frequently referred to as the owner’s companion – a waifu or husbando.

Do Waifu Body Pillows Come With Holes?

Some waifu Dakimakura pillows include genitalia and other artificial female body parts.

Such products are designed to provide additional sexual pleasure and might be a healthy way to explore your body. Furthermore, they are useful in the treatment of medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction.

Who Are Bishōjo and Bishōnen in Dakimakura Anime Pillows?

In Japanese pop culture, Bishōjo and Bishōnen are cartoon characters from the Bishjo video games that are largely about interacting with pretty girls.

A Bishōjo is a lovely young girl, whereas a Bishōnen is a handsome young boy.

When Dakimakura began to merge with Otaku culture in the late 1990s and early 2000s, pillowcases featuring Bishōjo and Bishōnen in various poses lying down sold like hotcakes.

They’ve been in high demand ever since.

Are Dakimakura Pillowcases Featuring “Yuri on Ice” a Thing?

Absolutely! Yuri on Ice is an award-winning Japanese sports anime TV series about figure skating that has struck a chord with Otaku fans. It goes without saying that its characters frequently appear on Dakimakura pillowcases.

The depiction of same-sex relationships between the protagonist and anxiety in general distinguishes this series from other anime.

Yuri on Ice was well received in Japan, earning it three awards at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival, one Japan Character Award, and seven in Crunchyroll’s inaugural Anime Awards.

It was even named one of the top 25 animes of the decade in 2019. It would have been such a snub if the characters from this fantastic TV show had not appeared on Dakimakura pillows!

How Popular Are Dakimakura Pillowcases Featuring Sagiri Izumi?

Sagiri Izumi is the main female protagonist in the lighthearted romantic comedy anime series EroManga-Sensei.

She is popular among Japanese and weebs who enjoy anime and follow the Otaku culture. Unsurprisingly, she is one of the most frequently featured faces on Dakimakura pillowcases.

Is Naruto a Familiar Face on Dakimakura Pillowcases?

Of course! We’d be surprised if Dakimakura pillowcases ditched Naruto.

With 250 million copies sold in 47 countries worldwide (153 million copies in Japan alone), Naruto remains one of the best-selling manga series in history.

Its creative storyline, carefully planted in the fictionalized universe of Kishimoto, incorporates Japanese mythology as well as shounen themes.

The series has given us some of the most memorable characters who fight epic battles and have a great deal of emotional depth. Last but not least, is the soundtrack of the series, which is captivating.

In our opinion, Dakimakura and the entire Otaku culture are incomplete without Naruto.

Is There a Talking Dakimakura Pillow?

Yes, talking Dakimakura pillows are already available in the market. Former Kyushu Institute of Technology researcher Koichi Uchimura first introduced them in 2015 as battery-powered pillows that could “talk.”

Uchimura dubbed the product “Ita-Supo,” and it came with its own mascot, Rina Makuraba.

When touched, the pillow was said to respond by saying, “What if I start loving you even more than I already do?” That’s not all. When frisked excessively, it would even say things like “Not there!” or “Hey, that hurts!”

Can They Help With Loneliness?

Whether a Dakimakura pillow can help you fight loneliness is a matter of personal preference. While some people might indulge in their fantasies and find comfort in hugging, snuggling, and cuddling a pillow, others might not.

Scientifically speaking, hugging a soft pillow can reduce stress and help you relax as it causes a massive release of the feel-good hormone Oxytocin.

Although not directly related, a study conducted by Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories scientists may be useful in understanding this phenomenon. Their proprietary product, Hugvie – a huggable human-shaped robotic cushion, was able to reduce stress in ASD patients speaking to strangers.

However, basing your purchase of a Dakimakura solely on this theory and the report’s findings would be incorrect, especially if you want to combat loneliness.

Consider the common misconception that every child wants to sleep with a stuffed animal. The truth is that some children enjoy it while others do not.

Should You Take Them Camping?

You can take your Dakimakura camping under the following circumstances:

  • It is inflatable and compact, so you can fold it up and carry it in your backpack.
  • You’re technically in love with your Dakimakura (or, more specifically, the featured character on the pillowcase) and can’t bear the thought of parting with it. It follows you wherever you go.
  • Your Dakimakura doesn’t fold up small, but you don’t mind the extra weight of 2 kg (more or less).
  • You don’t mind if your Dakimakura gets dirty, whether it’s washable or not.

If carrying a Dakimakura on your next adventure seems strange and impractical, check out our list of camping pillows that are specifically designed for the purpose.

Can You Buy Dakimakura Pillowcases?

Without a doubt! That’s the whole point of the Dakimakura hype: to entice people (especially Otaku fans) to buy Dakimakura pillowcases.

Choose as many pillowcases as you want from a variety of prints featuring your favorite anime, manga, and video game characters. The best pillowcases for your Dakimakura pillows are available online!

Can They Be Washed?

The fill material and fabric used for the pillowcase determine whether or not a Dakimakura pillow can be washed.

Some Dakimakura are suitable for hand washing only, while others are suitable for both hand and machine washing. Some Dakimakura would be able to withstand warm or hot water, while others would specifically warrant cold water.

Read cleaning instructions thoroughly before tossing them into a washer.

How Should You Wash Them and How Often?

Here is a generic step-by-step method to hand-wash your Dakimakura:

  • Soak the pillow in water (hot or cold depending on the cleaning instructions).
  • Add salt generously if you are trying to prevent color bleeding.
  • Mix a gentle detergent and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Gently rub the surface of the pillow without wringing it.
  • Run the pillow under running cold water until the detergent is gone.
  • Hang in shade to air-dry.

To know more, check out our detailed article on how to wash pillows.

Which Are the Common Fill Materials in This Pillow Type?

A Dakimakura is usually stuffed with one of the following materials:

See other types of pillow stuffing here

How Much Does a Dakimakura Weigh?

A traditional Dakimakura 160 cm in length weighs a little more than 2 kg. However, the newer versions, which measure 150 cm and 100 cm in length, weigh less than 2 kg.

How Much Does It Cost?

The price of a Dakimakura pillow varies according to its size, fill material, and whether or not the pillowcase is included.

A Dakimakura pillowcase, on the other hand, varies in price depending on the size, fabric quality, and, in some cases, the character printed on it.

Dakimakura pillows of high quality range in price from $20 to $100 or more. Pillowcases, on the other hand, range in price from $9 to $30 and up.

How Do You Select a Dakimakura?

The best way to select a Dakimakura is to keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Size – choose from the three standard sizes
  • Print on the pillowcase – choose your favorite cartoon character
  • Price – don’t go overboard with the price; buy one pillow and many pillowcases to fit it

Can They Be Customized?

A Dakimakura can very well be customized. There are many sellers out there that offer services to get a custom picture of your favorite anime, manga, or video game character printed on a Dakimakura pillowcase. All you have to do is look for a legitimate seller online.

Is Every Dakimakura Online Site Trustworthy?

Not every site selling Dakimakura is trustworthy. Some are just scams selling fake products at high prices. When we say fake, we mean the artwork, which is often stolen from Otaku artists who publish their work online or from the official merchandise of Otaku-related product companies.

Where Can You Buy the Best Dakimakura Products Online?

Unless you’re an obsessed weeb, there’s no reason your Dakimakura must come only from Japan. You can find the best Dakimakura products (pillows and pillowcases) on these websites:

Some of them offer free shipping, too!