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Shibari art by nawashi Shadow
Takatekote by Osada Steve [1]

Shibari (literally meaning "tying") is a Japanese style of sexual bondage or BDSM. However, this word only denotes bondage within the SM scene. It is also known as kinbaku (literally meaning "tight binding").



Shibari involves tying up the victim in intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope. Typically, these are 6mm (1/4 inch) thick and 7-8m (21-25ft) in length. Shibari differs from Western bondage in that, instead of just immobilising or restraining the victim, the victim gains pleasure from being under pressure and strain of the ropes, squeezing the breasts or genitals. The aesthetics of the bound person's position are also important: in particular, Japanese bondage is notorious for its use of asymmetric positions to heighten the psychological impact of bondage.

The acknowledged grandfather of modern shibari is Akechi Denki, who died 17 Nov, 2005, aged 64. Living grandmasters include Nureki Chimuo, Yukimura Haruki, Chiba Eizoh, Osada Steve, Randa Mai and Arisue Go.

Although some of the techniques of Japanese sexual bondage originated with the military restraint technique of Hojojutsu, sexual bondage techniques are far gentler, and great care is taken to avoid injury.

Development of Shibari

According to several sources, Shibari is a development of Hojojutsu techniques dating from the Edo period (around 1600). Hojojutsu is a martial art using rope to capture, restrain and even disarm. Hojojutsu often uses ties which are designed to cause discomfort or numbness to discourage attempt to escape, e.g. ties which compromise nerves or choke the prisoner. Shibari is a secure and erotic version, which attempts to minimise these risks. It is believed that the erotic woodblock print of Yoshitoshi, The Lonely House on Adachi Moor (1885), famously depicting a pregnant woman suspended upsidedown whilst the Hag of Adachi Moor sharpens a knife, and the paintings and photography of Ito Seiyu were a significant influence on many notable bondage masters. Seiyu was so obsessed with The Lonely House that he notoriously attempted to recreate the scene with his pregnant wife.

Until the early 1950s little was known about Shibari in the West. In recent years, Japanese style ropework has become popular in the western BDSM scene. Interest has grown as a result of early publications such as Kitan Club, then as videos became available and has exploded with the ease of access afforded by the Internet. However, the Internet is a double-edged sword: it has spread as much misinformation on the subject as information. Falsities are repeated until they are regarded as true. Common mistakes include the idea that hemp is the rope of choice. In fact, in the translation of 'asanawa' (literally asa=hemp nawa=rope) hemp is used in the generic sense to describe any rope made from a particular part of a plant, not only from the Cannabis genus. Jute is the rope of choice in Japan and Cannabis hemp is rare. One should not confuse the Western derivatives with genuine shibari, as there are many who roughly imitate the style and claim it to be authentic. Consequently, many of the nuances of particular ties are missed and the results can be dangerous, particularly for suspension bondage. One should not assume that everything printed in Japanese SM magazines is the genuine article. For example, SM Sniper has many photos of very competently executed shibari; however, it also has many which are simply some rope thrown on by an amateur to enhance a porn shot. Some excellent phots can be found at NORIO SUGIURA KINBAKU SAJIKI


  • Japanese Rope Related Terms by Tatu
  • RopeMarks' Shibari Glossary
  • kinbaku (緊縛): strict bondage
  • nawa shibari (縄縛り): rope tying
  • nawashi (縄師): This Japanese term is made up of two Japanese terms. "nawa" which means "rope" and "-shi" which means "artist" or practioner of some recognized proficiency (master or teacher). Historically it referred to a maker of rope. It has come to mean "rope artist" in the rope bondage world. The commercial Japanese performance industry uses the term to denote its professional bondagers.
  • takate-kote (box-tie)

Topics to be covered

The following two "Japanese bondage's" are specific Western inventions that have -NOT- been picked up by, or originated from, the east.

See also


External links

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