Japanese bondage: Wikis


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Book cover - Shibari, the Art of Japanese Bondage
Karada applied on a female subject.

Kinbaku (緊縛?) means 'tight binding' or Kinbaku-bi (緊縛美?) which literally means 'the beauty of tight binding'. Kinbaku (also Sokubaku) is a Japanese style of sexual bondage or BDSM which involves tying up the bottom using simple yet visually intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope usually jute (generally around 6 mm in diameter, but sometimes as small as 4mm, and between 7m-8m long). In Japanese, this rope is known as 'asanawa'. The Japanese vocabulary does not make a distinction between hemp and jute. Dictionaries will usually translate the word 'asa' as hemp and 'nawa' as rope.[1][2][3] However, this rope is not hemp rope, but jute rope: the allusion is to the use of hemp rope for restraining prisoners, as a symbol of power.[4] In Japan very few bondage practioners, if any, use hemp rope. Though jute and hemp may belong to the same family of fibers, and they both have good properties for holding knots and for not stretching, they do differ in looks, weight and especially in smell.[5]

The word Shibari came into common use in the West at some point in the 1990s to describe the bondage art Kinbaku. Shibari (縛り?) is a Japanese word that literally means "to tie" or "to bind". It is used in Japan to describe the artful use of twine to tie objects or packages.


Differences between Western and Japanese styles

Japanese bondage (kinbaku/shibari) is said to differ from Western bondage in that the bottom is almost always immobilized or restrained to gain pleasure from being under the pressure and strain of the ropes, often squeezing the breasts or genitals, while the Western practice of bondage often focuses more on the immobilization, or may be applied strictly for decorative purposes.

The aesthetics of the bound person's position are also important: in particular, Japanese bondage is distinguished by its use of specific katas (forms) and aesthetic rules. Sometimes, asymmetric and often intentionally uncomfortable positions, often giving choice of two 'evils' (two in different ways uncomfortable positions to chose between by moving in the ropes), are employed to heighten the psychological impact of the bondage. In particular, Japanese bondage is very much about the way the rope is applied and the pleasure is more in the journey than the destination. In this way the rope becomes an extension of the tiers hands and is used to communicate. Western styles are usually more symmetrical and may sometimes only marginally restrict the bottom's ability to move.

Japanese bondage techniques use natural vegetable fiber rope (hemp, jute, or linen) exclusively. The natural fibers easily lock to each other which means the bondage can be held together by the friction of twists and turns or very simple knots. Traditionally, only multiple 7-8 meter lengths are used.

Western styles may use traditional natural fiber (though often dyed for aesthetic color variation) or synthetic fiber ropes, which have become integrated over the years. Cotton was used early on, then nylon became popular in the 1980s or 1990s, followed by multi-filament polypropylene (MFP) ropes. The variety offers a choice of different textures and skin sensations, though knot choices become more complex because of the slippery nature of synthetic ropes. Western full-body bondage tends to use a variety of lengths and often very complex decorative knots.

Kinbaku/shibari, with its roots firmly in Japan, has gained popularity across the world. Kinbaku implies "kokoro"; heart, spirit, mind and cannot be reached by skills of ropes/knots alone.[citation needed]


Shibari art by nawashi Shadow

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.

Many rope artists have derived their own flavor of Japanese-inspired bondage which often mixes some Shibari techniques with other forms of bondage, often referred to as Fusion. Kinbaku/shibari is greatly influenced by the Sengoku period of Japan. One of Japan's darkest historical eras of torture and execution, it is still remembered for cruel means and methods that include the use of fire, knives, tattoos, boiling water, divining blocks and rocking horses[citation needed], etc. Eventually (in 1742) the Tokugawa government created a foundation of criminal laws, which included the seven different types of punishment (Labour, slavery, exile, death, etc) and the four kinds of torture (whipping, pressing with stones, constriction by rope, a position known as ebi-shibari (shrimp tie), and rope suspension).

According to several sources[citation needed], bondage as a sexual activity first came to notice in Japan in the late Edo period. Generally recognized as "father of Kinbaku" is Ito Seiu, who started studying and researching Hojojutsu in 1908 and turned it into an art form. Kinbaku became widely popular in Japan in the 1950s through magazines such as Kitan Club, which published the first naked bondage photographs. In the 1960s, Eikechi Osada brought performance bondage to the public eye.

In recent years, shibari has become popular in the Western BDSM scene in its own right and has also profoundly influenced bondage, combining to produce many 'fusion' styles.


Traditional Kinbaku is based on fairly specific rope patterns, most of them derived from Hojojutsu ties. Of particular importance are the Ushiro Takatekote (a type of arm box tie), which forms the basis of most Kinbaku ties, and the Ebi, or "Shrimp", which was originally designed as a torture tie but today makes the bottom vulnerable for more pleasant forms of play.

Generally, traditional Kinbaku is practiced with ropes of 7-8 meters (23 ft) in length. Due to the generally different physique of Western bottoms, 8 meter (26 ft) ropes are commonly used in the West. The rope material is usually jute (neither sisal nor manila hemp are usually useful), prepared according to specific techniques to achieve a pleasantly soft yet sturdy rope. Other materials are also sometimes used, although most synthetic ropes tend to be too slippery for Shibari techniques.

For historic reasons, Kinbaku uses very few knots, sometimes none at all, or only a cow hitch or an overhand knot. This requires rope with high friction. According to Sensei Nawa Yumio in his 1964 classic book on Torinawa, knots on a person was regarded as extremely disgraceful, something some would regard as worse than death. Restraints with no knots were not considered "bondage" and there was no shame in such; therefore, "wrappings" were used.


  • kinbaku (緊縛?): (noun) literally 'tight binding'. It does not convey the meaning of sexual bondage outside SM circles
  • kinbakushi (緊縛師?): (noun) kinbaku master, can be shortened to bakushi.
  • shibari (縛り?): (noun) the act of tying, binding or weaving. It does not convey the meaning of sexual bondage outside SM circles
  • shibaru (縛る?): (verb) tie or bind with a rope
  • nawa shibari (縄縛り?): (noun) rope-tying with a rope (an incorrect, "made-up" term, does not exist in Japanese [1])
  • nawashi (縄師?): (noun) literally,"a maker of rope", but in SM circles it means a professional "rope artist" (source Master K's book "Shibari, The art of Japanese Bondage")

Kinbaku patterns (most of the below have multiple variations)

  • Single wrist binding 片手首縛り Katate kubi shibari
  • Both wrists binding 両手首縛り Ryoute kubi shibari
  • Handcuff binding 手錠縛り Tejou shibari
  • Prisoner handcuff binding 連行手錠縛り Renkou tejou shibari
  • Hands behind the back binding 後ろ手縛り Ushiro te shibari
  • High hands behind the back binding 後ろ高手小手縛り(簡易型 Ushiro takate kote shibari)
  • Hands behind the head tie 後頭後ろ手縛り Koutou ushiro te shibari
  • Tasuki (kimono string) tied 襷(タスキ)縛り Tasuki ( tasuki ) shibari
  • Crotch rope tie また縄縛り Mata nawa shibari
  • Turtle (diamond pattern) binding 亀甲縛り(菱縄縛り)Kikkou shibari ( hishi nawa shibari)
  • Upright standing binding 直立不動一本縛り Chokuritsu fudou ippon shibari
  • Cross-legged binding 胡座 縛り Agura shibari
  • Shrimp binding 海老縛り Ebi shibari
  • Reverse shrimp binding 逆さ海老縛り Sakasa ebi shibari
  • Standing partial suspension 立ち吊り縛り Tachi tsuri shibari
  • One foot lifted partial suspension 片足上げ吊り縛り1 Kataashi age tsuri shibari
  • Hanging letter M, open leg binding M字開脚吊り縛り M ji kaikyaku tsuri shibari
  • Reverse hanging shrimp binding 逆海老吊り縛り Gyaku ebi tsuri shibari


French Shibari

Topics in Japanese bondage include:

  • Karada Japanese word used in the West for body (body harness, a "rope dress")
  • Ushiro Takate Kote Foundational form for most shibari ties, capturing the upper body / breasts and arms behind back (when ushiro) in a "U" shape behind the back
  • Kikkou - A body tie that ends with a tortoise shell design in the front upper torso.
  • Hishi A tie using diamond shapes. When done as a full body tie, it is sometimes also called hishi-kikkou. The hishi has been popularized by manga, or cartoon, art.
  • Ebi The "shrimp" tie
  • Agoura a less severe tie similar to an ebi
  • Tazuki "criss-cross harness"
  • Tanuki "racoon dog"
  • Kataashi tsuri "one-legged suspension"
  • Asymmetric bondage, a common feature of Japanese bondage
  • Tsuri suspension
  • Gyaku ebi
  • Hojojutsu


  1. ^ Christopher Noss, "A Text-book of Colloquial Japanese". Based on the Lehrbuch Der Japanischen Umgangssprache by Rudolf Lange, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1402157479, p.240
  2. ^ Vee David, "The Kanji Handbook", Tuttle Publishing, 2006, ISBN 0804837791, p.158,331
  3. ^ Mark Spahn, Wolfgang Hadamitzky, Kimiko Fujie-Winter, "The Kanji dictionary", Tuttle Publishing, 1996, ISBN 0804820589, p.907,1376
  4. ^ Jina Bacarr, "The Japanese art of sex: how to tease, seduce, & pleasure the samurai in your bedroom", Stone Bridge Press, LLC, 2004, ISBN 1880656841, p.185
  5. ^ (Citation: Osada Steve on Tokyobound)

See also

Further reading

  • Master "K". The Beauty of Kinbaku (Or everything you always wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized you didn't speak Japanese.). King Cat Ink, 2008. ISBN 978-0-615-24876-9.
  • Harrington, Lee "Bridgett". Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macramé. Mystic Productions, 2007. ISBN 061514490X.
  • Master "K". Shibari: The Art of Japanese Bondage. Secret Publications, 2004. ISBN 90-807706-2-0.
  • Masami Akita (秋田昌美 AKITA Masami), while known primarily as a musician, has produced an extensive number of scholarly writings on the history and practice of Japanese bondage.
  • Midori and Craig Morey (photographer). The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage. Greenery Press, 2001. ISBN 1-890159-38-7.

External links

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