Or everything you always wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized that you didn't speak Japanese
Special Edition - in Pictures!
Dream of a Dream – The trip to Japan for the launch of the Japanese edition of "The Beauty of Kinbaku"
by Master "K"
Sometimes a trip becomes a dream of a dream. By this I mean that sometimes something exceeds your wildest expectations and becomes a transcendent experience; and so it was with what had been planned to be a modest trip to Tokyo in October 2013.
The reason for the trip was a request by the publisher Suirensha to assist "as much as possible" with the launch of the Japanese edition of my book, "The Beauty of Kinbaku."
I was extremely honored that the book was to be published by this distinguished academic publisher who valued it for its scholarship. However, I wasn't expecting too much in terms of publicity as I planned my trip around the dates of the book launch. I couldn't have been more mistaken.
After arriving in Japan and checking into my favorite hotel (The Okura), my friend and student Zetsu and I set about preparing for the photographic exhibit.
The first step was to help set up the gallery for the book launch and cocktail party festivities. To our great delight the gallery had offered us a two-week exhibition of the 35 photographs which were originally intended only as decoration for the night of the party. The exhibit was held at a lovely, Greenwich Village style gallery in Shinjuku called Shinjuku-za. A lot of hard work went into getting the pictures up in time for the opening.
On the evening of the book launch we were stunned by the large crowd that attended. Many of these people were luminaries in the Japanese world of BDSM and Kinbaku. These included: the world famous artist Sorayama, the photographer Sugiura and the rope masters: Akira Naka, Arisue Go, Kanna, Kazami Ranki, and the dean of movie Riggers, the brilliant Urado Hiroshi.
The geisha were part of a lovely celebratory banquet called a uchiage…
but they didn't know what to make of Kinbaku!
Please note: no part of these articles may be reproduced by any means without the express written consent of the author or the publisher, King Cat Ink.
Dan Oniroku -
novelist, publisher, producer
Dan Oniroku is the pen name of arguably Japan’s most famous SM/fetish writer, born in 1931 in Saga Prefecture as Kuroiwa Yukihiko. He himself said his penname could be read either as Dan Oniroku or Dan Kiroku, but the former is the name by which he is most commonly known. He graduated from Kansai Gakuin (Kansai Academy) with a degree in law, but in 1957 he won a newcomers literary prize for a short story and began his career as a professional writer. After he contributed the story Hana to Hebi (“Flower and Snake“) to the SM magazine Kitan Club, he became famous as an erotic novelist which became his métier. During his lengthy literary career he penned, edited or published over 159 literary works.
He began writing Hana to Hebi under the penname Hamamaki Kyotaro for Kitan Club in 1961, but lost all interest in it after only three chapters. He then met Minomura Kou and Tsujimura Takashi (famous bakushi and writers and editors for the legendary Japanese BDSM magazine Kitan Club). With renewed interest he finished the story which was published to great acclaim in Kitan Club in 1962. The novel’s depiction of the psychology of SM was a startling literary departure for its day and became one of Dan’s major themes as a novelist. To date “Flower and Snake” has been serialized and/or republished numerous times and at least three successful motion pictures have been adapted from it. It remains Dan’s most famous literary work.
In 1969 he started his own production company, Oni Pro, and a year later affiliated with publisher Haga Shoten and, in collaboration with photographers and bakushi Totsuka Eisaku and Kayama Shigeru, began to publish high quality shibari/kinbaku photo collections on various themes. In 1971 he directed his own film entitled Nikujogoku and in 1972 began his successful collaboration with Nikkatsu studios on their “roman porno” series of erotic films. Many of his scripts starred the legendary actress Tani Naomi and their collaboration continued until her retirement in 1978 after the production of fifteen films.
Also in 1972 Dan launched his own “golden age” magazine, SM King. A quality publication employing the best writers and artists of the time, it got a lot of attention on its launch as a magazine employing, "only female editors.” In 1973 Tsujimura Takashi was appointed as "kinbaku shidou" (rope master/teacher) for SM King and also wrote his famous “Camera Hunt“ column.
In 1989 Dan Oniroku announced that he was retiring from writing and devoted himself to the publication of the short lived chess magazine Shogi Journal (Author’s note: Dan was an accomplished amateur player of shogi - Japanese chess). However, in 1995 he returned to writing and published the mainstream novel Shinkenshi Koike Juumei. His other major works include: Ashura, Nikuno Kaoyaku, Yuugao, and Ori no naka no Yousei as well as a fictional work based on the life of Itoh Seiyu. In 2000 his witty and wise semi-autobiographical novel Bishonen was successfully brought to the screen by director Hiroki Ryuichi under the title “I am an SM Writer.”
Dan Oniroku has been honored many times over the years for his creative output and in 1999 his autobiography Hana wa Kurenai (“Flowers are Crimson”) was published. Ironically, Dan would have preferred to have been remembered as a serious writer and not one known mostly for his fetish work. However, his influence on the evolution and practice of modern Japanese SM and shibari/kinbaku is indisputable. He passed away in 2011 with his fame as the most important, influential and talented Japanese writer of BDSM material still undisputed.
The exhibition is hung just in time for the party to start. The artist Miyabi Kyodo, who arrived early, even helped us align the very last frame put up!
Akira Naka & Kazami Ranki.
Akira Naka greets Urado Hiroshi with a bow of respect.
Urado Hiroshi and Arisue Go discuss their impressions.
The gallery quickly fills.
World famous kinbaku photographer Norio Sugiura and Master "K".
Hajime Sorayama and Master "K" share a joke.
The central courtyard outside our rooms at the Kyoto ryokan Sakanoue.
Panoramic view of Ginkaku-ji, The Silver Pavilion built in 1474 by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, renowned as the originator of many traditional Japanese arts such as flower arranging, the tea ceremony, the garden, etc.
Reading a promotional flyer for the book!
Master "K" answers questions for TV Tokyo...
...and then is happy to oblige when an interested gallery visitor asks to be tied! The TV cameras roll again as a blur of activity ensues.
People walk the streets of Kyoto in both traditional and modern dress.
Kyoto is a city of temples, shrines and gardens.
The temple features wooded grounds covered with a variety of mosses and a Japanese garden, said to have been designed by the great landscape artist Soami.
A beautiful spot for quiet contemplation.
The beautiful hair, makeup and costume of the Maiko (apprentice Geisha), which takes hours of preparation.
The book is on special display near the entrance.
The poster announcing the book talk in Kyoto on the 2nd floor.
Welcome to Kyoto bouquet.
Mrs. Dan is a gracious fan of the book. Aki-sama is a legend in her own right, as a singer and performer, as well as the keeper of Dan Oniroku's estate and rights to his works. Here she turns to a favorite page in Master "K"'s book. Aki-sama's view of the Japanese edition of "The Beauty of Kinbaku" was that it represents a window into Japanese culture and she believes "every Japanese person should read it."
Oniroku Dan memorial poster, stickers from his Oni Pro production company featuring his famous "Demon Six" logo and caricature and a collection of the author's novels presented to Master "K" by his widow on the occasion of their joint interview for Mania Club Magazine - October 2013.
The translation of "The Beauty of Kinbaku" is sparking a small cultural revolution in Japan. Proof of this claim can be found in a recurring phenomenon. Nearly every reporter that interviews Master "K" about his book ends the interview by requesting to be tied. These are mainstream journalists! Recently, during the interview with Aki-sama, the reporter for the event made the same request. Fortunately, there was rope handy (a gift from Aki-sama). The room watched with delight as Master K showed a bit of Yukimura Ryu to the assembled group.
Within a trip already filled to bursting with extraordinary and humbling events the most priceless gift of all was the chance to spend many hours in study with Yukimura-sensei.
Every time I am with him I learn amazing new things - some are small details, some are large concepts but all are essential and extremely clever. He is a wonderful teacher to those who will listen and there is always so much more to learn! He is truly a Master of this art, in all of its forms.
I look forward to spending many more hours with him, in study and in grateful friendship.
I was especially delighted by the name he bestowed upon me in his ryu- Haru Tora (Spring Tiger) - so beautiful in his own hand-painted calligraphy.
Thankful, humbled and also aware of the responsibility bestowed upon us, Zetsu and I will continue the spread of the Yukimura Ryu here in Los Angeles as we continue our own, never-ending journey in the world of kinbaku.
Links to Other Chapters of Kinbaku and Art
What was even more astonishing was that as a result of the successful book launch other promotional opportunities arose including talks at the main Kinokunya bookstore branch in Tokyo, a meeting with famed rope master Akira Naka to discuss plans to bring him to the United States in 2014 and, most extraordinary of all, a meeting with the widow of the great SM novelist Dan Oniroku arranged as part of an interview for Mania Club magazine.
For those who may not be familiar with the life and career of Dan Oniroku here is an excerpt from his biography in "The Beauty of Kinbaku".
Shortly after the launch party word came that the book was going into a second printing. As a result of this startling news the publisher arranged for a visit to and a book talk in Japan's beautiful and ancient second city of Kyoto where we stayed at an authentic and lovely ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn), toured several of that old city's (so different from Tokyo) distinctive and historic temples and even had a visit from some geisha!
Our trip was fast concluding but there was still time for two more surprises: the first was an interview for TV Tokyo…
And the second surprise was the presentation to Zetsu and myself of instructor's certificates for the Yukimura ryu (school) of Newaza style Kinbaku. A true honor after many wonderful hours of study.
As I said, a dream of a dream come true!
Join us next time as we return to our scheduled series of posts on Kinbaku and Art and take up the question, "Did the legendary, pioneering Western bondage artist and photographer John Willie actually learn a lot of what he knew about tying from the Japanese?"
See you then!