Wednesday, February 28, 2018

dakimakura 抱き枕

In Japanese, dakimakura 抱き枕 means literally a "hug pillow," in the sense of a pillow made for hugging. In English, the term is synonymous with anime body pillow, because a dakimakura is typically a body-sized pillow featuring an anime character on its cover.

This is also known as a "daki" in English, plural: "dakis."

A Nyaruko ニャル子 dakimakura 抱き枕.
Anime: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 這いよれ!ニャル子さん (Episode 9)


Literally, dakimakura means "hug pillow." They come in various huggable shapes, but this article is mainly about the long, cylindrical pillow shape that's related to anime.

  • daki
    Hug. To embrace.
    (noun form of daku 抱く, "to hug.")
    • Note: daku can also mean "to have sex with," but that has nothing to do with this article.
  • makura

Himeji Mizuki 姫路瑞希, hugging a dakimakura 抱き枕 featuring a crossdressing Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久.
Manga: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu バカとテストと召喚獣

Anime Body Pillow

In English, dakimakura is typically associated with anime body pillows, having this incorrect image of some otaku that wants to sleep with his waifu so he buys a pillow featuring her image to sleep with.

This image is incorrect because the dakimakura pillow doesn't actually come with any characters printed on it. The pillow itself is white, it's the pillow cover that features a character.

For reference, this is what a dakimakura looks like without a cover:

  • dakimakura hontai
    "Hug pillow's real body." (literally.)
    The pillow inner of a dakimakura.

Featuring Real People

A dakimakura doesn't need to feature a fictional character, it can also feature a real person, in which case it's called:

  • sanjigen
    3D. Three-dimensional.
    • In the sense of real life, as opposed to:
    • nijigen
      2D. Two-dimensional.
    • 2D > 3D, and so on, mean that the two dimensional fantasy world of animes is better than the depressing world of real life.

This, of course, sounds extremely creepy, and it's often parodied in anime, by having a character own a body pillow of another character of the same series, which, from their perspective, would be a real person.

Akaza Akari 赤座あかり, example of dakimakura 抱き枕.
Character: Akaza Akari 赤座あかり
Anime: Yuru Yuri ゆるゆり (Episode 1, Stitch)
  • Context: Akari's sister has a daki of her. Although hard to see in the image above, her face is covered in red lipstick kiss marks, suggesting her sister has some seriously creepy issues.


A dakimakura cover is, naturally, the cover for the dakimakura pillow, and this is the thing that features the anime characters, not the pillow itself.

Yoshii Akihisa 吉井明久 holding a dakimakura 抱き枕 cover featuring himself crossdressing.
Manga: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu バカとテストと召喚獣
  • dakimakura kabaa
    Hug pillow cover.
  • piroo keesu
    Pillow case. (not necessarily a dakimakura's.)

This means you can have only one pillow, but three different covers each with a different character, and you can switch waifus like a degenerate the covers instead of buying a whole new pillow for each character.

The pillow, or rather, the pillow inner, costs less than the cover, by the way.

Sometimes, a cover is sold together with the pillow, but normally you buy them separately. Make sure to check in case you're buying a cover, or you'll be very disappointed to learn it doesn't come with the pillow and you now have buy a pillow, too.

Not every cover is the same. The are different dakimakura sizes, and as such different cover sizes to match. There are also different materials, with different costs and feels, that can be used to make the cover.

Many dakimakura covers have characters in suggestive poses, since they're supposed to be, well, laying on bed. Some of them can include the character in lingerie or even naked.


A dakimakura cover has two sides: front and back. What's drawn on each side varies, so designs on sale typically show both sides of the cover. Typically, it will be one of:

  1. Each side has a different angle: front is the character faces up, back the character faces the bed, as if the pillow was his real body, or, more simply: front is boobs, back is ass.
  2. Each side has a different outfit: dressed and underwear or naked, or dressed and cosplaying.
  3. Each side has a different character.

There are also cases in which there are multiple characters on one side, and so on.

Some examples:

NSFW warning: the images on this article link to Amazon. Although the products linked aren't NSFW, the suggested products on Amazon could be.

And, of course, let's not forget the classic: the dakimakura dakimakura cover.


There are various sizes for dakimakura pillow and covers.

Generally, a dakimakura is 150cm or 160cm long by 50cm of width (or 4'11 or 5'3 by 1'8.). This is regardless of the canonical height of the character and standardized purely out of commercial convenience.

Japan, unlike America, uses centimeters instead of inches.

  • saizu
    Size. (150x50, 160x150, etc.)

The 150cm dakimakura is naturally cheaper, since it's smaller, however, it may be too small compared to the character's canonical height, so the drawing may look a bit scaled down.

This can be somewhat remedied by not having the character stand upright on the drawing, but since the edges are generally blank spaces, you still end up with a scaled down version of the character.

The average adult (20–49 years old) woman's height in Japan is around 160cm, so that size is closer to real life proportions.

  • toushindai
    Real-life sized.

The average adult man's height would be around 170cm, so unless your husbando is longitudinally challenged, like Levy from Attack on Titan, it'd be better to steer away from shorter pillows.

There are 170cm dakimakura, by the way, and covers of this size that feature mostly male characters, but these aren't common.

Since you can switch covers, you could put a 170cm cover on a 150cm pillow inner, it'd be a bit too large, but you can do it. The opposite, however, wouldn't fit—a 150cm cover is too short for a 170cm pillow inner.

Not every character can have a real-life sized cover. Some characters are inhumanely enormous, so normally you'll find a scaled down version.

For example, Miia ミーア from Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou モンスター娘のいる日常 is 7 meters tall, or rather, long. As such, there's just no way anybody would be stupid enough to try making a dakimakura this b... oh, wait, they made one?

And it costs 100 thousand yen, or 800 dollars.


Not all dakimakura come in long, cylindrical shapes. As mentioned previously, the only requirement to be a dakimakura is too be a pillow made for hugging.

The anime dakimakura tends to be cylindrical because the covers follow a standardized size for the pillow. That way you can buy any cover for any pillow, so long as the sizes match.

There are, however, some anime dakimakura that don't follow the standard.

  • dakaretemakura
    Be-hugged pillow.
    An anime body pillow with arms to hug you. It's cross shaped and looks like the character nailed on a cross, to be honest.

Rittai 立体

Some dakimakura designed with "solids," rittai 立体, placed on breasts and buttocks for that 3D feeling. Yes, actually. They make this stuff.

Mouse Pads

This is the same principle used in some *cough* "ergonomic" *cough* anime mouse pads with *cough* "wrist support" *cough cough* that are sold around.

These even exist with Overwatch characters, which I guess makes more sense since Overwatch is a game, which you play with the mouse, which stays over the mouse pad.

Yeah, for that great sake that is the ergonomics people will buy the weirdest stuff on the internet.

vs. Dutch Wife

A dakimakura is sometimes compared to a "dutch wife," which is a bit confusing because this term has multiple meanings.

In English, a dutch wife is a body-pillow-shaped bamboo thingy that you'd hug under the heat of summer, because it stays colder than the bed sheets through the sheer power of thermodynamics. In Japanese, this would be called:

  • chikufujin
    Bamboo wife.

What's called a "dutch wife" in Japanese, instead, is a sort of sex doll that's crafted to look eerily similar to a person.

Kaori 香織, example of dutch wife.
Anime: The Tatami Galaxy, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei 四畳半神話大系 (Episode 7)
  • dacchi waifu
    Dutch wife.

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