About Rope Bondage

Kinbaku (緊縛) means „tight binding, and it is used as a synonym for erotic bondage. Often the term Shibari (縛り) is used interchangeable. In Japanese „Shibari“ literally means „decoratively tie“. But it can be also a present that’s tied decoratively*.

We use „Kinbaku“ for our rope work, as we like to emphasize eroticism, emotionality, and the commitment the two partners take for each other when entering a Kinbaku scene. For us, it is a personal intimate journey.

Where is Kinbaku coming from?

Rope and tying is, and always has been, plentiful in Japanese culture. Its use ranges from separating the sacred from the profound e.g. in Shinto Shrines to the art of decorative wrapping and tying gift boxes or the belts of traditional kimonos. Also, rope was widely used for immobilizing captives and as a tool for interrogation, both in the war times and later during Shogunate. To see tied captives in public was probably a common scene in old times Japan. Naturally, in myth and fairytales, the idea of somewhat thrilling eroticism related to rope around a (female) body emerged and made it into the collective subconscious mind, as shackles and chains made it for us Westerners as symbol for imprisonment and punishment. Even famous swordsman and Ronin Miyamoto Musashi had to suffer from hanging on a rope from a tree in young age, according to the legend.

Between the 17th and 19th century the art form of Kabuki theater became popular and along with it Ukiyo-e, (wood prints) proliferated scenes of thrilling & often subtle (or less subtle) erotic depiction of Kabuki scenes rooted in Japanese collective myth. Famous examples are the one of Princess Chujo bound in snow or the „Twenty-eight famous murders with verse“ from Yoshitoshi, of which 3 have rope bondage involved.

Picture: Heldenartig, Make up: Fräulein EigenArt – www.somatics.discoverkinbaku.com

Contemporary Kinbaku

The art of erotic tying became even more popular since artist and self-proclaimed pervert Seiu Ito started to use the new medium of photography to capture his model, muse and wife Kiseko tied in ropes. In the 1920ies a circle of artists, bohemians and rope enthusiasts gathered around Seiu Ito to explore the art of erotic tying. This is the origin of modern Japanese bondage.

After the 2nd World War Japan came under American occupation. There was an inbound of American pulp literature and porn magazines, which cross-polluted the Japanese rope scene. Relatively loose censorship allowed publishing of magazines with Fetish and BDSM content, and a “Golden Age” of Kinbaku publishing started, with iconic magazines like Kitan-Club as spear head. Initially quite diverse in content, the fan base just loved everything around Kinbaku most, and consequently the magazines specialized. There were writing, photography, drawings – and how-to series of the at that time contemporary masters of Kinbaku, such as Minomura Kou.

The old patterns and techniques, from the Martial Art of capturing people and tie them properly for public display (Hojo-Jutsu) got re-evaluated and altered to make them safer and more versatile for photography and “home-use”. Later, the art of tying entered stage shows and cinema, which called upon further development of safe but effective techniques. From there, the development branches out, and now many interpretations of intention, technique, and aesthetics co-exist.

Lineage

Our style is derived from Akira Naka, who himself was a student of Nureki Chimuo. Both worked for and with the famous Kinbaku photo master Sugiura Norio who influenced their aesthetic development. The patterns used in Akira Naka’s style of Seme-nawa are rather minimalistic, reduced to the maximum effect for the person tied, in terms of physical and emotional impact. In Europe this style is represented by Riccardo Wildties, the Deshi of Akira Naka and our teacher.

* More elaborated esseys on the different meaning of Kinbaku vs. Shibari can be found here: here or here.