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Or everything you always wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized that you didn't speak Japanese
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The Beauty of Kinbaku
Kinbaku 
and Art
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.

 

Chapter Eight

The 10 Best Kinbaku Films and Videos Ever Produced
(imho) - Part 1

by Master "K"


​Now that the holiday season is upon us, I thought the time appropriate to respond to the suggestion of several kind readers and do the companion piece to one of the first posts in this arts series, “The 10 Best Kinbaku Books of all Time.” (Please see chapters one and two of this series.)

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As might be imagined, this was not an easy list to come up with. In my 40 years of collecting I've seen Kinbaku videos of all types, from shabby porn to slick mainstream films and to try to sort the chaff from the wheat was by no means easy.
Nikkatsu studios, created in 1912 and one of the major Japanese film production companies, was on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 1970's due to the popularity of television in Japan. Their desperate solution to this economic crisis was to throw their dwindling resources into pinku eiga (erotic/sex films) which until 1971 had only been the province of second and third rate companies. To get an idea of how momentous a decision this was, imagine the reaction in the United States if MGM had dropped the musicals and gone into soft core porn!
The film's goal is to examine the lives and work of several world class bakushi, those rope artists who ply their trade as teachers, producers and “riggers” for video, books and magazines. In the main, this is achieved very successfully. The men selected are Yukimura Haruki, Arisue Go and the late Nureki Chimuo and they are joined by their favorite models of the time: Saotome Hiromi, Sumire and Uzuki Taeko. Each rope artist is presented in a working situation or session and then reflects on his career. Each of the models the men work with also gives their thoughts.
Please join me next time as I continue to countdown 
  the 10 best Kinbaku films and videos of all time!

This time it's “The 10 Best Kinbaku Videos/Movies of all Time” (imho) and I hope it offers some ideas for gifts for that rope lover on your holiday shopping list.
The basic criteria for this 10 best video list is the same as was the case with the 10 best books list. In order to be selected the productions under consideration must have at least two out of three vital characteristics:
For the first fiction film in this best of the best list I offer the very entertaining and somewhat underrated “Rope Detective,” better known by its more recent re-release title “The Bondage Master.”
No list of the best Kinbaku films of all time could possibly be compiled without including at least one from the “golden age” of SM film when the legendary Nikkatsu Studios virtually invented the genre.
As shocking as this seems, the move proved relatively successful and in 1974 the company’s board decided to try a new line of pinku eiga, which they had re-named roman-porno (“romantic pornography”), this time incorporating SM themes. On June 22, 1974 the first film version of Dan Oniroku’s famous novel Hana to Hebi (“Flower and Snake”) was released and was quickly followed by Ikeniie Fujin (“Wife to be Sacrificed”). Both films were directed by Konuma Massaru and starred the remarkable actress Tani Naomi. Whether this was sheer commercial desperation or a shrewd understanding of the zeitgeist of the moment can’t be known but the results were spectacular. “Flower and Snake” was very successful but “Wife to be Sacrificed” turned out to be a blockbuster, becoming not only Nikkatsu’s biggest hit of the year but also one of the studio’s five top grossing films of all time! Further SM oriented films quickly followed.
For the first documentary entry on this list the obvious choice is the excellent 2007 “Bakushi” from talented feature film director Hiroki Ryuichi. 
The intense “Wife to be Sacrificed” tells the story of a deranged, divorced man who kidnaps his ex-wife in order to try to reconcile with her. Clearly, such relative psychological and narrative complexity takes this effort out of the realm of pornography and, while it’s true that in most Western countries the film might never qualify as “politically correct,” a serious argument can be made for its artistic merit as the production is well written, acted and filmed. That said, perhaps the West is becoming more tolerant. “Wife to be Sacrificed” had its US premier 24 years after its initial release when it opened in San Francisco in 1998 to good reviews! It was even available for a time on Netflix.
From later in 1982 comes an even more significant event in Kinbaku film and video history. The first on screen appearance (as far as the author has been able to determine) in a “how to tie” video by the great Nureki Chimuo; the artist many credit as being the finest rope master of the 20th century. As such and in many ways, this is one of the most valuable items in my Kinbaku video library.
Directed by Hitoshi Hoshino, it runs a brisk 83 minutes and tells the story of a working bakushi (rope master) who rescues a woman from the Japanese mafia and sets out to find the woman's missing sister.
Cover: SM Kyoushitsu Shibari-hen (SM Classroom, Shibari version) - 1982
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The Beauty of Kinbaku
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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.

Kinbaku 
and Art

Or everything you always wanted to know about Japanese erotic bondage when you suddenly realized that you didn't speak Japanese
Finally, I decided to include series in this list because some of the highest quality, most inspirational and just plain useful “how to” videos ever produced came in groups of anywhere from two to a dozen titles. And while all the titles in a group might not be easy to find today, even one of these well-made productions is worth including in the true Kinbaku lover's video library.
It was recorded at the early SM bar Nakano Queen, which was started in 1979. Nakano Queen was often used by the great Akechi Denki and Denjirou Sakurada for Kinbaku performances. Therefore, it was an obvious choice as a film set for this pioneering instructional.
Beneath the rather lurid cover of a masked man tormenting a bound model with a long stemmed rose is a video of true historic significance. According to my good friend Ugo of Japanese SMpedia fame, this video is the first (or certainly one of the very first) “how to tie” productions ever filmed and was offered for commercial release at the dawn of the video boom in Japan (and elsewhere) beginning in the early 1980's.
It's a straightforward “how to tie” video featuring an attractive model, a masked bakushi and a female mistress. I'm told this mistress could be Seki Kazuko who ran the Nakano Queen (and also, apparently, directed later SM videos) but this has yet to be confirmed.
9.) SM Document 2 - How to Bondage - Van Video - 1982 (VHS only, no subtitles)
The bakushi/star of the video is the mask wearing “Joe Tanaka” (an obvious alias) and the repertoire of Shibari ties he demonstrates are the usual basics: gote, hishi (diamond pattern), agura, etc., etc. (Please see the Glossary section of “The Beauty of Kinbaku” for definitions and descriptions of all of the ties mentioned in this article.) 
The video has, for its time, fairly high production values, is relatively easy to follow and must have sent many a rope lover back to their massive 1980's era video recorders many times for inspiration. As the first in a long line of videos to come, it's an obvious choice for this list.
Cover: SM Document 2 - How to Bondage - 1982
Cover: Nawa deka - Rope Detective (AKA The Bondage Master) - 1998 
Cover: Ikeniie Fujin - Wife to be Sacrificed - Nikkatsu Studios - 1974 
Poster: Bakushi - The Incredible Lives of Rope-Masters - AT Entertainment - 2007 
All of the nawashi are very articulate and are shown to quite good advantage, especially Arisue Go who has the most visually interesting section; a beautiful private session with his model in an elegant tatami suite. Another plus is being backstage at a photo session with Nureki in collaboration with master photographer Sugiura Norio as they tie Saotome Hiromi. This was a request of Saotome who had worked with both men many times over the years and who wanted to get the three friends together again, “one last time.” Given Nureki’s passing in 2013 this is indeed a most poignant scene. Yukimura Haruki's more intimate session with Sumire is also of a high quality as are his well expressed, candid thoughts on his long career. 
As with all such lists, it's a matter of taste and I'm sure there will be those readers who will be disappointed that I didn't pick their favorite rope video or movie. My apologies in advance. In truth, this list could more accurately be called, “10 of the most interesting Kinbaku films and videos this author has ever seen;” so if your favorite didn't make this list just chalk it up to a simple difference of opinion.
In order to make the selections a little bit more sensible and manageable I have limited myself to two categories: the best “how to tie” videos and the best documentary/fiction films involving Kinbaku.
1. Kinbaku must be the major focus or an important element in the production and each film, video or DVD must have some historical importance because of its subject matter, who produced it or the times in which it was released.
2. Each effort must demonstrate a high level of quality. That is to say, there must be some obvious artistic or educational ambition or intent demonstrated in the production.
3. The films or videos must be at least somewhat available in the West and preferably in a dubbed or subtitled version. If that is not the case then, as with several of the “how to” videos I include, the productions must be easy to follow and comprehend even for the non-Japanese speaker.
This last criteria was one of the stickiest to deal with because, unlike books which are often available on the used market long after publication, movies and DVDs/videos are more ephemeral and often go out of stock never to be seen again. Therefore, I've done my best to try to pick titles for this best of the best list that I've seen appear on eBay (both here and in Japan) or have become newly available as re-releases.
So let's get started! In reverse order and counting down, here are the ten most interesting Kinbaku related movies and videos that I've ever seen dating from the 1970's to the present.
10. SM Kyoushitsu Shibari-hen (SM Classroom, Shibari version) - Arrow - 1982 (VHS only, no subtitles)
We know this is a very early production not only because of the date of release (1982) but also because in this video Nureki goes by his earlier bakushi name Toyo Kanichiro. This name was, I'm told, a combination of Nureki’s real name Toyokazu and that of the magazine still photographer he often worked with. In fact, the “set” for this video looks remarkably like the one used for Nureki's famous series of magazine “how to” instructionals that he did for SM Kitan and then, later, SM Collector beginning in the late 1970's.
If SM Kyoushitsu Shibari-hen (above) is important partly because of the simplicity of the tying techniques demonstrated then this video shows a younger Nureki doing the much more complicated tying that was his signature style and was certainly the forerunner of today's safety minded, sophisticated and dramatic Kinbaku.
Nureki presents his classic low hand one and two rope gotes then follows those up with several suspensions (always with the aid of a spotter/assistant). In these the legendary bakushi makes a point of showing how the airborne model must be supported by several carefully placed suspension ropes. The 30 minute (approx.) video ends with Nureki demonstrating some seme (torment) techniques on his obviously receptive model.
Even though this video has no subtitles it's very easy to follow and for those that do speak Japanese there's the added delight of listening to the ever confident Nureki sensei compliment his own tying!   
8. Nawa deka - Rope Detective (AKA The Bondage Master) - 1998 (DVD, English subtitles)
The film is a carefully contrived blend of genres, an offbeat mix of bondage, mystery and comedy that comes together in a satisfying one of a kind film. 
The plot is quite straightforward and tells the story of a regular guy who happens to be good at using ropes to tie up women for erotic photo shoots. As one model he's working with says, “You're very good, it doesn't hurt at all!” The guy also has a gig at a bondage club where SM shows are put on. It isn't long before he's hip deep in a couple of dramatic subplots, one involving the missing sister of a woman he rescues and the other the death of a woman at a friend's home who was being chased by the yakuza.
Of particular interest is that the Kinbaku in this film is by the great Nureki Chimuo and I've been told that several of the incidents in the film depict actual occurrences from his own career.
The movie draws you in with the promise of sex and then pulls the rug out from under you, leaving you instead in the company of some rather interesting characters. And make no mistake about it, the reason that the film works is because you genuinely like the people on the screen. The main characters are actually just a bunch of ordinary people on the fringes of society where bondage is just a job. You feel their pain and happiness because they really are just like the rest of us.
Over the years my appreciation for and enjoyment in this film has grown and I think it deserves its place on this list because of its clever uses of Kinbaku as a plot device and for being the only fiction film (so far) to attempt to depict the actual working life (circa 1980 - 1990) of a professional bakushi.
Please note: the rights for the English subtitled DVD release of this film have passed from company to company over the years but, as of this writing, both Asia Pulp Cinema and Central Park Media still seem to have the film in their catalogues.
7. Ikeniie Fujin - Wife to be Sacrificed - Nikkatsu Studios - 1974 (DVD, English subtitles)
The film is especially blessed by the inventive Kinbaku created for the movie by legendary bakushi Urado Hiroshi who rigged numerous SM themed films for Nikkatsu Studios in the 1970's and 80's and whose wonderful Shibari has probably been seen by more spectators world wide than all the other famous Japanese rope masters put together.
6. Bakushi - The Incredible Lives of Rope-Masters - AT Entertainment - 2007 (DVD, English subtitles?)
Although the quality of this production, to say nothing of its historic interest, makes this documentary an easy pick for a best of the best list, including it in mine did give me a moment's pause. The reason is that I had long thought that this film had never been widely distributed in an English subtitled version. However, I've recently learned that there are subtitled copies that have been making the rounds in North America and Europe so if you're lucky enough to find one then owning or viewing this well made documentary will be well worth the time of any true Kinbaku lover. 
For those interested there is much more information on all of the people and videos mentioned in this article in “The Beauty of Kinbaku.”
What's interesting about the techniques shown is how simple they are. This is straightforward Showa era (1926-1988) or even earlier Kinbaku/Shibari without any fancy frills. As such, it's a very valuable look in motion at the early basics of Japanese erotic rope.