Shibari, Kinbaku, and the Japanese Bondage Revolution

Shibari, Kinbaku, and the Japanese Bondage Revolution

Sex. Sex. It’s not surprising that sexual preferences are similar to culinary preferences. While everyone may prefer a particular way of doing things, there are many other options. And it’s constantly changing. Although sex is not necessary for survival, it is an essential human need. It all depends on how you approach it.

Sex can be as straightforward as just being a missionary, or more complicated. Many enjoy BDSM, which stands for Bondage Discipline Sadism and Masochism. It is often considered the next level of sex, or “vanilla” sexuality. However, BDSM is a general term that can be used to refer to different kinks. It comes from different cultures. One example could be the Japanese art and practice of shibari/kinbaku.

Let’s first look at the differences between the terms. The Jade Rope explains the subtleties between them: Shibari, which refers to the act of binding or tying, signifies that the intent of the person tying it is “aesthetically driven”, while Kinbaku, which means “tight binding,” is used “should the exact same tie be used to create an aesthetically driven scene.” Kinbaku is also described as requiring an emotional connection, exchange or association, instead of being sexually related.

Ironically, martial arts are the source of this art’s origin. Although Japanese rope tying was first recorded in the Heian period (which dates back 800), it wasn’t until the 1400s when a popular method of capturing enemies on a battlefield was created. The Edo period (1603-1868), was when law enforcement created the martial art HojoJutsu. This is “the act of capturing and binding criminals (or suspects with rope).” It is now more commonly known as Torinawajutsu (and still used by Japanese police).

As kabuki theatre and Japanese erotica featured brutality, it slowly became sensuality. This allowed actors to experience no pain, and it also promoted the safe visual aspects of the art. The first fetish magazines were exchanged during World War II.

The art has seen a lot of progress since that time seventy-five year ago. Some rope masters, or “nawashi”, are very open about their art. Hajime Kinoko, a modern nawashi, explains why rope tying is so much more than just sex and strength in a 2018 interview with Hero Magazine.

“The model bound by the tier is controlled by fear and anxiety. But understanding the feelings of the model and tying her with love, care and respect, you can create a stronger trust.

Since its origins in the context of punishment and warfare, the art form has made great strides. It is romantic to see a practice that has been so brutally reintroduced under the disguise of savagery. Although this is not always true, it should be a message that is sent to all BSDM culture. The world will shift towards a more positive view of sex once this misconception is dispelled.