THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN JAPANESE BONDAGE
It is said that American John Willie's bondage work first appeared in
Japan during the Korean War; in the "abnormal" magazine Kitan
Indeed, the link between Japanese and American bondage was established
at the time of the Korean War, after the setting for such a connection
followed the Second World War, evidenced in the initial appearance of
the "abnormal" magazine Kitan Club. This magazine made possible
the opportunity for an "abnormal" link between bondage enthusiasts.
The merge of eastern and western "abnormality" served to show
the state of Japanese abnormality at the time. Examples may be seen
in the picture book "Blue Decadence Hospital" by Takashi Shima,
a Japanese hybrid of Après-guerre and Willie's "Sweet Gwendoline"
In addition, the picture of "Ten Naked Tied Women" by Reiko
Kita (appearing in the July 1952 issue of Kitan Club) was the trigger
that set the magazine on a specialised course of abnormality and bondage.
According to bondage master Nareki Chimuo, the "Ten Women..."
picture is without doubt Japan's first example of seme-e (a picture
of sexual assault). and quite clearly targeted its appeal at bondage
enthusiasts. The publisher of Kitan Club was so pleased with the sales
of the issue, that he decided to gradually change the content from one
of general amusement to a serious magazine for the so-called "abnormals".
Reiko Kita had in fact renewed what was largely a Kabuki passion of
master Seiu Ito. Reito Kita was actually an alias for Ko Minomura, the
person practically responsible for the transformation of Kitan Club
into an "abnormal" magazine.
Minomura first encountered seme-e when he was a child, playing in a
library warehouse, he came across such pictures by accident and was
totally taken in by the beauty of the rope. One of these pictures displayed
an almost naked princess suspended under a pinetree, her hands tied
behind her back with coarse rope. An ugly thug was also pictured, sticking
his hands between the princess's legs. Another picture showed a garden
in snowfall, with a stark naked young woman suspended in the air by
hempen cords, shivering with cold and shame, a hoodlum master and a
wicked old hag are shown beating the young woman with a broken bamboo
stick. Yet another picture was even more erotic, with a lecherous king
sexually assaulting one of his house maids.
The discovery of these pictures gave the child an inexplicable ecstasy.
He later became a pupil of Seiu Ito, and learned that these pictures
were termed seme-e.
Through Kitan Club, Minomura displayed a variety of bondage pictures,
serving to satisfy an eager readership of bondage enthusiasts. It was
through this magazine that bondage in Japan began on a clear and definite
Another remarkable magazine appeared after the war under the title of
Fuzoku Kitan and featured western bondage artists such as Willie, Stanton
and Eneg. This magazine later evolved into a homosexual magazine, featuring
a treasure trove of bondage and hara-kiri, as in Kitan Club, but gave
a more modern impression due to its display of western bondage and fetishism.
Most of the pictures form the West were supplied by Takashige Morishita
of Phenix Shokai, who showed his enlightened image of western bondage
through photogravures like Fuuki and Uramado. These facts lead one to
ponder what kind of impression Willie's first work must have had on
Japan, the home of bondage.
At that time, the following comment was made about Willie.
"We can see in Willie's work that the main element is not the actual
bondage but various other objects that are 'used. These ore not used
merely as objects, but as props for the attainment of a certain beauty.
These objects are mostly high heeled shoes, long laced boots and leather
corsets. Also some new items like old-style hobbled skirts, which are
long, tight skirts, modified with long gloves that allow both hands
to be tied together. These objects greatly pleased enthusiasts".
Willie's work, with its use of these objects, was attractive not only
to bondage enthusiasts, but also to those who had a fetish for such
objects. Thus, regardless of the difference in methodology and aesthetics
between Japan and the west, this new strain of western bondage was responsible
for starting a new scene of fetishism in Japan.
The concept of fetishism can be seen in general sex magazines in both
pre and post war Japan. However, it was in magazines like Kitan Club
or Fuzuko Kitan that consciously catered to enthusiasts. They introduced
various pictures from the Victorian Era, focusing on erotic fetishism.
Headed by Willie, western bondage renewed fetishism images from the
past, largely coming from pin-ups brought into Japan by American soldiers
during the Korean War. Unfortunately, the bondage scene declined in
the U.S. along with a lack of success in the Korea War and a domestic
recession, and Willie’s later years were rather obscure.
However, in Japan, which was ironically revitalised by the Korean War,
the bondage scene rebuilt itself on a traditional base and Japan became
something of a leader in the art. Japanese bondage has succeeded the
tradition of seme (sadism), and now creates a rather calm and passionate
atmosphere of an aesthetic, supported by an unmistakable craft. Western
bondage differs from its Japanese counterpart on this point, as it seeks
to toy with the act of love, and trying to attain a complete effect
by uniting the female with various objects, binding equipment and clothes.
On the other hand, in Japanese bondage the exchange of passion between
the active and passive subjects is an axis upon which the act revolves.
In general however, these distinctions are not often clearly made, and
have been almost obscured into a sexual "normality" in Japan,
which remains the sadomasochistic kingdom of the world.
Copyright by Masami Akita
ABOUT KINBIKEN AND RIGHT BRAIN
In 1985, a bondage enthusiasts circle was established under the name
of Kinbiken (an abbreviation of Kinbakubi Kenkyu Kai). Its founder was
a bondage master Chimuo Nureki (who also produced the magazines Kitan
Club and Uramado), and photographer Akio Fuji. Up until this time, Nureki
had already been a leading influence on the post-war sadomasochism scene
When the club first started, it went under the name of NAOMI SUGISHITA
CLUB, but was later changed to KINBIKEN at the third meeting. More than
fifty meetings have been held since that time.
The object of the club is to study the beauty of bondage, drawing distinctions
between socalled "SM fan clubs" and "SM photo sessions".
One of the most distinctive facets of the club is that the bondage women
participate of their own free will. Membership in this circle helps
one to ascertain the true beauty of bondage by observing the techniques
of master Nureki.
Says Nureki, "One of the main reasons I started this circle was
to provide a facility for masochistic women, who are often misunderstood
and therefore despised"
The circle's main technique involves bondage with hemp rope, however
other methods are also used, for example breast tormenting, female prisoner
acts, gagging, torture by water, underwear etc. These activities can
also be fully enjoyed by viewing the club’s videos.
In 1990, another project termed "Right Brain" began, modelled
on Kinbiken and under the leadership of Yuri Sunohara. While Kinbiken
is based upon bondage, this project explores a far more extreme realm,
including hara-kiri, rubber, gas-masks, etc.
Copyright by Masami Akita
Texts are from the inlets of “Music for a
Bondage Performance 1 and 2”, published be EXTREME Records.
About the author of the texts:
Masami Akita was born in 1956 in Tokyo, Japan. His name is stated in
the western tradition of first name followed by the family name due
to him being well known internationally for his music.
Akita is a graduate of Tamagawa University, Art Department, and majored
in Painting & Art Theory.
Upon completing his degree, Akita commenced work as an editor of several
magazines. He subsequently became a freelance writer for several books
Akita's favourite areas of writing are art, avant-garde music and post-modern
culture. He has become a renowned writer in the field of bondage, S&M
and fetish culture.
Akita formed the premier Japanese Noise group Merzbow in 1979. Merzbow
have released over 200 recordings, on tape, LP and CD, to date.
Akita has worked with many different media such as video, film and CD-ROM,
both in the directorial and soundtrack role. He has also developed performance
works and art installations involving butoh dance and other Japanese
Merzbow commenced playing live in Japan in 1981, both solo and with
many other Japanese and international artists. Merzbow toured Russia
in 1988, USA in 1990, Korea in 1991 and Europe in 1989 and 1992. Since
then, Merzbow have continued to play live and now tour regularly throughout
Europe and USA.
You can order CDs at Xtreme Records -
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