While reading the comments over at Chizumatic (yes, dream-eating is the correct way to interpret yumekui, given that hitokui = cannibalism), I belatedly realized another bit of kanji wordplay in my expanding collection of naughty-novel cover art: 蜜楽.
I didn’t think much of it the first time I saw it, on the cover of Welcome to Honeyfun Island, but then I saw it again on Honeyfun-hunting and made a mental note to see if it was a common genre term. When I saw the comments on Yumekui, it snapped into place.
The word on the covers is mitsuraku. Compare these two characters:
The first one means honey, the second one means secret, and they’re both read as mitsu. There’s also a word itsuraku that means pleasure. So, adding an initial consonant sound and substituting a suggestive kanji converts simple “pleasure” into “secret honey pleasure”, which certainly sounds like something you’d look for in a naughty novel.
I found a less wholesome example on another cover, 蠢（うごめく）, whose main title is a rarely-used character for the verb “to squirm; to crawl like a worm”. The subtitle is 姦獄美姉妹, which is read as kangoku bi-shimai, “prison beautiful sisters”. Or, rather, the first word would mean prison if it were written 監獄, but the first kanji has been replaced with another one that is also read as kan, but has various meanings including “wicked” and “boisterous”. And, unfortunately, “rape”, which is probably the intended meaning in this context. (supported by the people-also-bought list including a number of books with prison bars and tied-up women)
Note to self: do not browse for cover art in a session where you have confirmed to Amazon Japan that you’re over 18. This opens up the search results to include material that’s been flagged adults-only in their database, such as bondage, rape, and lolicon. These really don’t fit my cheesecake-pin-up theme, and the cover art on the lolicon novels is seriously creepy.