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Shibari History

Author: Calais

Filed in: bondage, rope, shibari, history


History of origin

Most of Japanese culture was in fact brought in from it's surrounding countries, through invasion or by trade routes, including India, Korea and China. It is not known whether the art of rope bondage was originally from one of these countries, or the unique practice of the Japanese culture. However, it is universally accepted as Japanese in origin based on the written records dating around the 1600's by the Tokugawa government. In this time period of relative peace, the Samurai were told to disarm themselves, meaning they lose the use of their swords, as their was no need of them. Law enforcement was handed down to the Samurai and local constables. The law itself used codified methods of tying as each territory or region had it's unique method of tying.

Hojojutsu, as it is now called is the traditional Japanese martial art of restraining using rope or cord, not taught on it's own but as part of the whole curriculum of law enforcement. Hojojutsu can be divided into two categories. The first was used by the Samurai called "hayanawa" or "fast rope", involving the capture and restraint of a prisoner. In law enforcement, this technique was called "torinawa" or "capture rope", the cord was carried by constables who kept the cord coiled and would pay out from one end. Both forms combined effective restraint and visual aesthetics which was very much part of the Japanese culture.

Restraint was life or death. If the captive were to escape, the bondager was often executed, therefore bondage technique developed into a very secure and rapidly applied restraint. The practice of bondage in public added aspects of humiliation to being bound and a complex code evolved that dictated the proper bondage based on guilt and social status. Bondage with knots is considered humiliating in the Japanese culture and used on those convicted and sent for execution. Unknotted bondage was used on those if guilt had not yet been determined or used on captives of high social status.

The Transformation

During this same time period, bondage was used to torment female hostages taken in war, usually the wives belonging to high ranking officials or the daughters of rival Lords. Bondage evolved into extreme forms of humiliation for the hostage who was often tied in very exposed positions and when combined with suspension can be very painful. Traditionally, the Samurai did not tie the prisoner but ordered the servants, while the Master waits to examine her and maybe use her as he desires, adding to the humiliation. The Japanese did not strike the woman. While the hostage sqirms, the motion causes the ropes to punish her. The Japanese use the effect of weight, gravity and time to elicit her fear which can be later exploited. Later, in the 17th century, members of the high social classes would gather and tie up naked women in humiliating positions and leave them there long enough to enjoy them and make drawings of them. These gatherings were called "komon sarashi shibari", a combination of Hojojutsu (tieing prisoners), Kinbaku (Japanese torture techniques), and Sarashi (public display).

How it is used today

Shibari is the art of erotic spirituality, the concept of mind, body and spirit and has largely been lost as Japan turned more western-oriented around the 18th -19th century. The most common misconception is that Shibari is soft and romantic. Even the simplest of bondages are not romantic and each individual bondage has a specific target and goal. The primary goal is to start an adrenaline and combined endorphin, dopamine and enkephaline rush for the recipient and an adrenaline/serotonine rush for the giver. The more advanced bondagers will enhance these intensities further using sensory deprivation, humiliation techniques and breath control just to name a few.

I believe that in today's society, most individuals are practicing what is called "kinbaku-bi" which means beautiful bondage or "Sokubaku" the Japanese style of sexual bondage which is used in bdsm.

Resources used:

History of Japan. Contributors: SaburĊŒ D. Ienaga - author. Publisher: Japan Travel Bureau. Place of Publication: Tokyo. Publication Year: 1962.

Japan since Perry. Contributors: Chitoshi Yanaga - author. Publisher: McGraw-Hill. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1949.

The Far East: A Modern History. Contributors: Nathaniel Peffer - author. Publisher: University of Michigan Press. Place of Publication: Ann Arbor, MI. Publication Year: 1958.

Japanese Culture. Contributors: H. Paul Varley - author. Publisher: University of Hawaii Press. Place of Publication: Honolulu. Publication Year: 1984.

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