A Models Glimpse Into Japanese Rope Bondage

I have been privileged to be the subject in some intimate Sydney exhibitions in the art of Shibari and Kinbaku. The feeling is almost indescribable, I felt euphoria, relaxation, arousal, and intimacy in eye contact with the rope master while the rope was softly stroking my bare skin it was better than any tickle or tie-up I’ve had before. I became what they call ‘rope-drunk’ and although there was an audience I could only see myself and the rope master in the room. It makes me wonder why more people don’t invest in this artistic bondage. It is never intended to be painful but more a form of art which provides both physical and sexual release as well as physical and mental support to the subject.

There are a few different types of rope bondage intricately connected with Japanese culture both ancient and modern. Their main purposes are to exude and unleash euphoria, trust, strength and power, submission, pleasure, pain relief and much more.

The 3 most known practices in Japan are Kinbaku, Kinbaku-bi and the popular now westernised term, Shibari which is a fusional word used by westerners to describe Kinbaku in a milder sense. Many people who decide to introduce rope bondage into their daily life particularly in western countries usually intend to use the rope only for one-dimensional restraint during sex by doing a humble scout tie on either wrist and or ankles. Someone slightly more adventurous may even use it for auto-asphyxiation too which when done properly can heighten sex pleasure and climax.

While the general knots and ties that we may have learned as a kid are reflected through our later adult adventures in eroticism and sexual play, it barely quenches ones’ thirst. It is only the surface to a more artistic and far more beneficial bondage tying. This is why I have decided to overview a brief but interesting review on Japanese rope bondage to give you a different idea of the versatility and uses of rope bondage.

Shibari Photo
Photo: Shibari

Primarily, Japan is quite conservative, even still in 2017 you will see older generations who are still very traditional and quite closed minded. However, connecting to that conservatism is this plethora of some of the most radically sexualised pockets of Japanese culture and somehow, they all seem to intertwine much like the rope that is used to connect people and give a person a sense of sexual freedom.

Kinbaku means “tight binding”, while Kinbaku-bi literally means “the beauty of tight binding”.  Kinbaku is a type of Japanese bondage or BDSM which involves tying a person up using simple yet visually intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope like Jute, Hemp, or linen. They are generally 6mm in diameter, but sometimes even as small as 4mm, and between 7-8 metres long. Much like Shibari’s historical roots, the allusion is to use the hemp rope for restraining prisoners, as a symbol of power, in the same way that stocks or manacles are used in Western BDSM context.

There is much discussion about the distinction between Shibari and Kinbaku, and whether one term is more appropriate than another. For westerners wanting to distinguish the terms, Shibari refers to purely artistic, aesthetic rope, while Kinbaku refers to artistic, connective, sensual, sexual practice. Itoh Seiu, is generally considered one of the fathers of contemporary Japanese rope bondage and used the terms in the 1950s.

Bondage as a sexual activity first noticed in Japan in 1603-1868 during the late Edo period. It was generally recognized by “father of Kinbaku” Itoh Seiu, who started studying and researching Hojojutsu the martial art of restraining. He is credited with the inception of Kinbaku, though it is noted that he drew inspiration from other art forms of the time including Kabuki theatre and Ukiyoe woodblock prints. Kinbaku became widely popular in Japan in the 1950s through magazines such as Kitan Club and Yomikiri Romance, which published the first naked bondage photographs. In the 1960s, people such as Eikichi Osada began to appear performing live SM shows often including a large amount of rope bondage, today these performers are often referred to as Nawashi which means “rope master” or Bakushi from the word Kinbakushi which means “bondage master”.

In recent years, Kinbaku has become popular in the Western BDSM scene and has also profoundly influenced bondage, combining to produce many ‘fusion’ styles. In its most mainstream form thus far, Kinbaku in the fashion industry and has featured in a music video for FKA Twigs’ song “Pendulum” where the music artist was suspended by intricately tied braided hair throughout the clip.

Kinbaku is based on specific rope patterns, many of them derived from Hojōjutsu ties though significantly modified to make them safer for bondage use. Many Hojōjutsu ties were deliberately designed to cause harm to a prisoner and are therefore not suitable for erotic bondage. Ushiro Takatekote which is a type of box tie which surrounds the chest and arms, forms the basis of many Kinbaku ties. The Ebi or “Shrimp” was originally designed as a torture tie and codified as part of the Edo period torture techniques.

Similarly, like many other forms of BDSM and eroticism many of Kinbaku’s roots stem from corporal punishment and medieval torture techniques. Over many years they have been carefully deconstructed and modified to make welcomed additions to the BDSM culture and sexual lifestyles.

Having many friends who play many different roles in the art of Kinbaku, this artful rope bondage is not only restricted to an exhibition both private and public but you many also wear Kinbaku rope ties underneath clothing. Much like the Victorian corset it is hidden underneath clothing during the day. Depending on the certain tie can be used for pain relief in areas of the body, also a form of restraint tied by a Dominatrix on his or her submissive counterpart to wear as a form of training, control and discipline. Some will even wear these ties to assist with lifting breasts and offer more core support in some cases.

Shibari Photo
Photo: Shibari

You can also incorporate sex toys, massagers, surgical steel anal hooks, and flowers which can all be interlaced with the tying too. It adds another element to the general Kinbaku or Shibari play. This is very popular mostly for aesthetics but still adds a different feel, look and experience. I highly recommend everyone at least try this unique form of bondage once, which is very easy to learn and very fun to try! You can check out tutorials on YouTube which may ignite a new-found addition to your personal erotic repertoire.

Author: Bree is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

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Andrew is right into the Fet Lifestyle and enjoys BDSM. He has written about these subjects in many arena’s and is an expert at Shibari. He shares his knowledge by working with Adultsmart a sex toy store. Enjoy the descriptive and educational articles he has written.

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