This week features another unusual piece of Japanese erotica, an obidome featuring a red coral carving of a nude woman framed by flowers, studded with tiny pearls. An obidome is a decorative slide used to ornament the front of the obijime, the cord used by Japanese women to help keep the wide sash or obi in place. Other than ornamental, the obidome serves no purpose. Legend traces the obidome to the class of female entertainers known as geisha, who, to honor a special patron or customer, slid his metal sword guard, called a tsuba, on her obijime. The geisha were the trendsetters of the day and soon women of all classes were using an ornamental slide to decorate the obijime. Some obidome are set with precious and semiprecious stones, and carved coral is a popular and traditional material. However, the other coral obidome I have seen are more innocuous subjects, such as koi or flowers like peonies or chrysanthemums. Considering that the obidome is displayed prominently on the front of the obi like a belt buckle, the choice of a nubile nude is rather surprising.
A view of the back of the obidome, displaying the slides for the obijime. Although the metal is unmarked, it tarnishes like silver. The obidome is 1.75 inches long.