My new obsession: The Japanaese art of Kinbaku

Osada Steve, Tokyo by Hélène Veilleux

Osada Steve, Tokyo by Hélène Veilleux

The world of BDSM has many fetishes to choose from. But few can be as artistic as the Japanese rope bonding method called shibari or kinbaku. Though the two terms both refer to rope play, they have major differences.

Shibari: means “to tie” and consists of wrapping the person in ropes and special knots so that they are unable to move. It’s common to use this term to refer to the aesthetics of the session, rather than the sexual intimacy.

Kinbaku: means “to tightly bind” and involves more  emotion, passion, heat. It contains a greater level of sexual dominance and submission.

It’s important to note here the focus on Japanese aesthetic. The rigger or tier, called the kinbakushi, is an artist and the rope is considered an extension of his/her hands. The person being tied can be bound in uncomfortable poses, or they may be suspended and hang in asymmetrical shapes, sometimes gagged or blindfolded.

kinbaku 2One famous kinbakushi, Osada Steve, has been noted in various kinbaku features. You can hear a first hand account of a special woman Osada Steve performed kinbaku on here. Her descriptions of his “methodical” work can give any sub the chills.

What is it that’s happening during one of these sessions? The balance of power, the illusion of the self, the notion of ownership? Take your pick!

It’s clear that this form of bondage speaks volumes about the psyche of the sub. The recipe is somewhere along the lines of…

  1. being wanted by the kinbakushi
  2. feeling somewhat comforted and secure by the ropes
  3. desiring the degradation of being physically exposed
  4. enjoying being the center of an artistic/sexual trance
  5. and of course PAIN!

kinbakuBeing tied and immobile is exhilarating. It is as if you are drowning but not dying. There is complete immersion and complete submission. I must say, kinbaku isn’t easy to accomplish. Not only must you maintain the art form, but also express the dominance in a traditionally intimate way using a tool. Instead of kisses and strokes they’re using complicated knots and wraps.

It is a mind-fuck for the person being tied! When do the ropes end? What happens if I try to move this? What will be tied next? This sort of thought process is common throughout many dom/sub games, of course. But being suspended and/or hung upside down is where kinbaku separates itself dramatically from the rest.

Suspension, or tsuri, makes the person 100% helpless and vulnerable. They are akin to bait on a hook, a coat on a hanger, or an animal strung up as a prize. The feeling of weightlessness also adds to it. Their body is shaking, straining against gravity, confused by this upside down reality.

At the crux of it all, is trust and control, transference of power. It is beautiful to relinquish power. It is noble to accept it.

Think you’re ready for a go? Get the right ropes, of course. And talk with your lover about it. As with all adult games, don’t play nice! 😉

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