Japanese rope bondage is a historic erotic art which set down roots in the West in the mid-1990s. Quickly adopted by BDSM enthusiasts, Fetish.com gives you a brief history of this ancient practice and its effect on modern culture.


Kinbaku vs. Shibari

Kinbaku: meaning 'tight binding' in the Land of the Rising Sun, this is a form of Japanese-style bondage that uses intricate patterns to tie thin rope around a bottom.

This technique alludes to manifesting power over your partner, as hemp rope was used in Japanese culture to make prisoners submissive, much like handcuffs and their predecessors, the manacles.

Shibari: which literally means 'to tie'. This is a technique similar to kinbaku, but recent practice separates them by making a very simple distinction between the two. Shibari is viewed as a purely artistic exercise with aesthetic purpose. Kinbaku currently refers to the sensual practice of bondage.
 

East vs. West


Eastern and Western erotic rope bondage practices are very different. In the East, flogging and other forms of erotic torture were used prior to more advanced form of play and bondage.

In the West, bondage is the simplest and first form. Western bondage involves using a single length of rope made of cotton or synthetic fibre. Its main purpose is to restrain a consenting sexual partner.

Eastern bondage requires cooperation between partners, and is viewed as a spiritual journey. It uses thinner, shorter lengths of rope, made of hemp and jute.

In Japan, the means of securing your prisoner's obedience is by using multiple 6 to 8 metre long 'asanawa' strands, or 'hemp rope'. Other types of fibre are quite common, including jute, flax and linen.

The rope lengths, known as 'ken' are proportional to the arm span. The 'hayanawa' ('fast rope') uses twice the arm span for short rope capture. The 'hon nawa' uses 14 times as much.

Another aspect of Japanese bondage is aesthetics. The application of katas (rules) and the considerable effort is the main source of pleasure, not the end result.
 

History of Japanese rope bondage


Erotic rope bondage is believed to have begun to be used for sexual purposes in the Edo period, which spanned across the 17th through to the mid-19th century.


Rope bondage, in a sexual context, first caught the eye of Japanese society in the late Edo period. This was when the arts and culture could be enjoyed by the people at their leisure. Seiu Ito, 'Father of Kinbaku', researched the martial art of Hojojutsu, which involves restraining people using rope. He drew inspiration from Ukiyoe erotica and Kabuki theatre.
 
Hojo-jitsu is also called torinawa-jutsu, and it's a samurai skill. It originated in Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan and was refined in the Edo era. Japanese warriors of the 1450s refined 'quick capture' and restraining techniques using rope.

A century later, the rope became part and parcel of law enforcement practices. Knotting was considered shameful, so prisoners were allowed to be bound without using knots.
 
Hojo-jitsu required four things:

  • to incapacitate the prisoner

  • to leave him unharmed

  • to keep the techniques secret

  • to make the bondage aesthetically pleasing.
     

Samurai were traditionally respectful toward their prisoners. Under the Tokugawa government this martial art was used for torture. As a form of torture, hojo-jitsu was used to bind the prisoner in the ebizeme ('Prawn') or 'tsurushi-zeme' position, the latter involving weights. Whipping, stoning, hanging from mid-air and constriction were the norm.

Hojojitsu, as a martial art, subsided two centuries later. In fact, by the 1800s it had disappeared. As an obscure martial art, Hojojitsu is practiced across the world.
 

Japanese rope bondage in press and performance


Magazines in the 1950s helped kinbaku grow in popularity across Japan.  Literature and art touched on subjects of bondage and sex. With tales of the 'Marquis de Sade', people's enthusiasm rose for kinbaku techniques.


A decade later, Japan's pornographic industry took off. Tokyo theatres began to host shibari shows. These performances called for an unsuspecting member of the audience to volunteer for the public's viewing pleasure.

Some live SM performances included Japanese rope bondage. Japanese Masters, entitled nawashi ('rope artist'), kinkabushi or bakushi, perform live shows to this day. Shibari features in the works of many contemporary artists, photographers, painters and sculptures such as Hikari Kesho, Jim Duvall and Nobuyoshi Araki.

As the art extended across continents and was received by Western culture, it appealed less to the general public and more to fetish enthusiasts. Over time, heterosexual, homosexual and bi-sexual practitioners emerged.

Japanese rope bondage extended into larger communities, regardless of sexual orientation. With the recent fusion of Western BDSM techniques and kinbaku, a hybrid bondage practice created: 'fusion' bondage.

 

Japanese rope bondage today
 

The three rules of Kinbaku:

  • make sure that the captive is powerless

  • create appealing bondage

  • the prisoner is still and peaceful throughout his spiritual journey

  •  

Popular knots used:


  • Overhand

  • Lark's head

  • the Square Knot

  • the Bowline

  • Anchor Hitch


Simple techniques:


  • Ryo-tekubi: with wrists tied together in front of the prisoner's bottom.

  • Kotobu Ryo-tekubi: with the wrists tied together behind the head.

  • Mune Nawa: with the prisoner tied around the chest.

  •  
Some of the most popular Kinbaku forms:

  • the Karada

  • the Ushiro Takate Kote

  • the Kikkou (tortoise shell harness)

  • the Hishi (diamond body harness)

  • the Ebi

  • the Gyaku-ebi (reverse 'ebi' similar to a hog-tie)

  • the Agura (bound with legs crossed)

  • the Matanawa (crotch rope)

  • the Tazuki

  • the Tanuki

  • the Kataashi tsuri

 

Modern-day practices have very little to do with the original art of Japanese rope bondage. The movement is symbolic of changes occurring within society. Kinbaku remains the flagship of bondage, heralding more imaginative and pleasurable techniques to come.
 

Does the idea of Japanese rope bondage get you all knotted up inside? What are your favorite bondage techniques? Share all with Fetish.com members in the comments. And, if you're not already a member of Fetish.com, sign up below for free BDSM dating, Forum chat, and all the latest fetish news from our sex positive, kinky community.

Photo: Boris Mosafir/Flickr
 
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[…] types of play, such as paddles, belts, knives, even teeth, and on the more creative end–abrasive rope. Learning how to leave semi-permanent marks is a great middle ground between standard impact play […]

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Nice

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