Apr 122008
 

Graydancer’s Ropecast includes part one of an interview with Master K, who provides the most plausible account I’ve found so far of the history of Japanese bondage (shibari or kinbaku) and its relationship to the Western/American BDSM tradition. K says there was a cross-pollination between John Willie, of Bizarre fame, and the Japanese bondage subculture in the early 1950s, with Willie’s books being distributed in Japan (legally or by piracy?) and Willie having access to books and magazines from Japan. He also says the modern Japanese bondage culture grew out of several influences: kabuki theatre, the military tying technique of hojojutsu, the use of tying as a form of physical and psychosocial torture, the use of tying in many other aspects of Japanese culture, including religion. It makes more sense to me that it would come from multiple sources, and go through an evolution that parallels the Western sadomasochistic tradition.

When non-Japanese talk Japanese rope bondage, the discourse often revolves around issues of authenticity, and there’s a certain jockeying for status in who has the most access and understanding of the “real” thing, complicated by the distance, language barrier and general insularity of Japan. It’s hard to separate this from Orientalist discourse of the erotic, exotic Far East. Graydancer makes a point of sidestepping this issue by calling what he does “Japanese-style rope bondage”

Addendum: Part 2 of the Master K interview

Addendum: Now the complete Master K interview has been posted.

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