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Origins of Japanese Bondage 2


It is said that American John Willie's bondage work first appeared in Japan during the Korean War; in the "abnormal" magazine Kitan Club.
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 course.
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

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 in Japan
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 and magazines.
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 cultural forms.
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 - Australia

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