Tag Archives: Hajime Kinoko

Tokyo Day 3

Disclaimer: Due to the fast pace of this journey, and jetlag, massive sensory overload and general crazy rope-time, these accounts are not always as detailed as I would like them to be. Furthermore, if there is anything factually incorrect, please tell me and I will do my best to amend this. I also sadly did not have time to see all the performances nor write down as much as I’ve would have like to. Also, please, if you know the name of the various model’s that the rope-artists worked with, please post. They deserve to be named and get as much credit as the riggers themselves, as they truly shined throughout the event.

After not much sleep during the Saturday evening, we managed to get out of bed and out on the streets of Tokyo. I was a bit in a mode of soaking up as much as I could of Tokyo, since I could not stay for that long. Every hour counted.
By accident, we found a couple of sex shops, one which was completely  geared towards BDSM gear. Found some bits and pieces which I will treasure and I promise you, use:)

After then again returning back to the venue of the festival, the first artist we got to see was Yoi. And what a start it was. Entering the room, the light dimmed and just a very faint spotlight and candle lit the whole performance,giving it an air of us sitting in and watching this show taking place in moonlight. Both the model and the rigger used masks, the model wore a fox one and the colour scheme was deliberately white, red and some black.
Slow undressing followed, revealing a model with the face painted in the same fox-pattern as that on the mask, and together with the atmospheric soundscape that shifted between traditional Japanese music such as the shamisen, then Japanese children singing, and then to just the sound of rain, a different world opened up, a world that Yoi and her fox invited us to see. A fox which was about to be caught in carefully placed, beautifully crafted rope. The focus here was not speed or flashy, instant rope, but instead slow, deliberate tying, in which the fox followed, albeit with that slight hesitation and curiosity and in the same time, with delicious submission. There was so many things in this performance that has made me continue to think about it constantly since returning.
Tie ties themselves flowed, starting off with a TK. She was then suspended face down, very low and very close to the floor, which felt really perfect for this kind of fox. The feral creature which was the model moved incredibly gracefully, responding and communicating through her whole body. It was one of those performances that you did not want it to end.

After the  performance of Yoi’s there was a  talkshow with question time, and for the sake of easier reading you can find that post here.

After the Q&A it was time for Kinoko‘s second show, the neo-kinbaku. We made our way downstairs to find a spot, and it was filling up quickly. When the music started there was a creature entering the stage, dressed in a shiny zentai-suit. The creature moved slowly over the floor, with supple, feline movements, smooth but cautious. The music was fastpaced, light dimmed.
Kinoko entered the stage, grabbed the creature, pushing her fast over his knee, backwards, holding his hands around her neck. This was the start of a very visual performance, with a pumping electronic music.
He starts to tie her, with a fluorescent green rope. The tying itself is smooth, slick and fast. Because of the colour of the rope and the way he moves it around the model, it almost looks like he is using strands of flowing oil instead of rope to tie the zentai-creature. Every touch is precise, every movement controlled but extending through to the audience, moving with the music, but only in a very subtle way.

He ties her into a 3 rope TK and a hip harness, first moving her into a upright suspension. When he starts spinning her and leaving the stage, a laser and lightshow comes on, creating incredible visuals. Throughout the show, this is what happens when he has done a transition. Kinoko moves on to tie a gyaku-ebi, to a fully inverted sakasa, with only the ankles supporting the model. He then shifts the support into the hipharness, bringing down the legs, futomomo style. Between every one of these transitions, another lightshow comes on, and it creates a very futuristic feel. The last transitions is when he flips the model over, so she hangs from the hipharness, like a D lying on its back. With the rope, he then ties it around the legs and face of the model. This last shape, he pulls her higher than the others, staging a powerful crescendo. As she is in this position he starts to throw heaps of fluorescent rope on her, furthering the entanglement with the rope, that which connects them and their audience, then and there.

Shigonawa Bingo is a performer who also a part of the Ichinawa-Kai. Him and his very muscular self started the performance by halfdressed,  lying down to rest, only dressed in the the traditional loin-cloth fundoshi, After a couple of moments, a woman walks out on stage, sees him resting, strokes his cheek, drapes her juban over him and stroke his face yet again.  Bingo moves away, turns over and tries to go back to sleep.  As this is unsuccessful, he sits up,  looking at her and then put on the juban. These few minutes before the tying started really set another special tone for a performance. The props used, how they related to each other, etc., all made it feel like a scene between a husband and wife, or at least between two loved ones who knew each other very well.

There was a special caring touch in the way that he rested her hands upon his knee when tying her wrists, the way in which he used his whole body to move her, with or with out the rope. The ties he used varied slightly form the  regular TK that could be seen during the weekend. As I returned from Tokyo, I tried to tie it from memory and found it was both easy, steady and very good support, and according to the bunny, very comfortable.  The chest harness made it possible for  the hands and the arms of the model can be tied separately. There was a lot of small details that caught your eye in this performance; from how the tenugui, which is usually used as a blindfold, gag or tool to inflict pain (when it is wet, it hurts!), but here it is first introduced as a washcloth covered in water, which he squeezes over her body. A small move, but with a big response, it made her whole body tremble and the skin react immediately.  In one of the final moments, a hand came out from the side of the screen, pushed the button on a bottle, and provided the couple with snow, trickling down over them… Different and touching indeed, but the hand coming out from no where made both me and my friend giggle, as random as it was.

The next performance I managed to catch (oh, I assure you that I succeeded in missing a lot of shows, running between the different floors all the time) was that of Esinem‘s. This was a man who said that he felt like he was going to bring coal to Newcastle by going to Japan to do a show.
This show first of all, felt ‘whole’. There was a fluidity and ease to it, in terms of how it moved on stage, in the interaction between him and the model Yuki as well as how it really drew the audience in.  With music from Requiem for a dream, V for Vendetta and The Matrix, there was again a quite specific soundscape. Rather than drawing on the exact beat of ever track, he moved within the pace and mood it set.

The show started with him leading Yuki in, who had a rope around her neck, much like a collar and a lead. All of this was removed with a slight tug on the rope, revealing the kind of ‘dragon rope’ or ‘disappearing’ rope. It was here that it became clear how important every movement was in this performance, when not even this little starting point was neglected. The tying it self, the show, started with a rope being untied. I don’t know about you, but for me it shows how the hole experience is of importance, that every rope matters, and untying is as powerful as the tying itself.  As they sat down on the floor, a long newaza-session followed, and it did not take a long time before they both were lost in a world they had created. Afterwards, Esinem himself said that he did not even hear all the music, as he was so lost in what he was doing. This performance was special, the newaza took the time it needed to take, where the pain and pleasure truly went hand in hand.   You could really see how they moved together, with Esinem as always, being very close to Yuki, both physically and mentally, her self surrendering the whole of her being into the ropes and the moment.
The crescendo came in a gyaku-ebi suspension, attaching lilies to theropes, flowers which he then whipped off with a snakewhip, raining over the stage and those in the audience sitting on the first row. Once again, a performance ended leaving me with a heavy beating heart.

Midori is someone whom I’ve heard so much about, but never have been able to see. I admire her writing, love the visual and emotional take she has on her way of relating to kink and so it felt like a great time during Toubaku to have the Midori-experience.
The stage was dark as we waited for the show to start. It was possible to see some kind of preparations being made, including someone hanging from the ceiling…

Mozart’s Piano Concerto’s No. 21 and  No.27 accompanied this performance, here is one of the two that you can listen to while reading:
Two men came out on the stage, dressed in only fundoshi’s and robes. They sat down for a sake picnic. As they are cheering, clinking their sake-cups and talking, they became more and more touchy. And then more and more, they got closer and closer, started fondling, started kissing each other. Now, these was two very hot men, fondling and kissing, on stage, right in front of the audience. Do you know, first of all, how uncommon this is on the fetish scene? Just think of it. How common is it not with a public display of female,sexualized bodies, preferably two or more? While the gay fetish-scene keep sticking to themselves, there is an assumption of how the female body should be presented. No men on club-flyers, hardly any men on stage, unless they are fully dressed and can act as a MC, presenter or something else. Anyhow, back to she show.
They kept on kissing, drinking, fondling, smiling, while in the other corner of the stage, a creature, dressed in a black zentai-suit was hanging up side down from a suspension-point, completely still.
The couple gets more and more drunk, continuously kissing and smiling, but then one of them, the more muscular one, needs to go off into the bushes for what I assume a piss. He leaved his partner, stumbling around and then all of a sudden, the creature grabs him, he was caught in its arms and then, also the creatures rope. By now, we have basically understood the creature is Midori herself. And Midori is actually starting to tie this man, WHILE hanging from the suspension point, upside down. The drunk man tried to resist, but his confusion enabled her to take control.
So, while hanging upside down, she tied him into a chest-harness, secured to the hard point, then a legtie, pulling one of this legs up. One leg in the air, another on the ground, a slight nod to the partial suspension you can see on the cover of her book.
Meanwhile, every now and then, as tying, still hanging from a rope, she traced tickling fingers over the muscular body of this man, who was stringed up with the face and his body fully exposed towards the audience. This was not just about her ability to tie upside down, this was about exposing flesh that so rarely gets exposed, so rarely gets admired and objectified through the hands of others.
Sure, it is easy to find the undressed man on a billboard, but they are in control, they are always in control and you can see it in the eyes of Beckham on the billboard. The giant sock in his boxers and the giant paycheck, together with the privilege of his position.
But this muscular man, tied up, while working as a model, and I assume getting payed for his time, he had surrendered that kind of agency, albeit temporarily, for the sake of him being tied up and exposed for our viewing pleasure. She manipulated and played with him, and he was enjoying it, an enjoyment that was shared by us who got to see it. The way in which he was tied emphasized  his broad shoulders, strong legs and expressive eyes. Yes, his eyes was tantalizing.
And her hands moved over his body, teasing, exploring, tickling.
This creature, while still being lighthearted had somewhat of an underlying threat, reminding me of a mythological creature, interrupting a sakè bacchanalia of some sorts. My reference frames comes obviously from the Western mythology, so say Loki, from the nordic mythology, who was fond of the mischief side of things.
The other man, slightly leaner and thinner in stature, started to wonder where his lover had gone. So, slightly stumbling through the forest, he trippes over the Midori-Loki creature. At this point, she had come down from the ropes and instead attacked him from behind, leaving him with a slightly dazed and confused expression. She moved freely over the floor as she was tying this guy, and he was tied up with the other man, tied to the leg that was still standing of this guy, making it look like he was leaning on him. She then brought out a bunch of roses, started to decorating the two of them with these, all over, including one which was made to protrude from the standing guy’s crotch. And this made me smile even more. It was done with so much love and humor and and warmth.
As a finale, she cut all the ropes that kept the standing guy standing, and as he fall to the ground, he literally fell next to his lover, making it look like he fell into an embrace. An embrace 0f rope and roses.
And this just. Hard to describe. Just this immensly positive feeling. This was not exploitation or an appropriation, this was not about ‘laughing at some ditzy men who are getting pissed and making out’.  This was about an honest and loving homoeroticism. As I later learned from Midori herself, the japanese work for rose- Barazoku- is an underground codeword for ‘gay’ or men fucking/loving men. And, apparently, there is another flower for the lesbians/dykes/women fucking/loving women- the lily or Yuri. Another inspiration cited by Midori, was the work of Yukio Mishima, a Japanese queer writer who’s work  I’m looking forward to explore when I can actually read fiction again without feeling bad about not doing work for uni.

After the ropes were cut, the whole house broke out in applauds, and it was impossible to wipe out the smile of my face. The next performance was by Osada Steve, and as a show it was completely different. Set to the soundtrack of Anthony and The Johnsons, he and his model created a very still space, although there was something with their interaction that made it impossible to look away, and still painful to watch.  I can’t recall much sadly, as I took no notes. I remember a sidesuspension, vulnerability and submission. Strong submission that echoed throughout the room, through the ropes, and towards him, as he tied her into a sidesuspension.

To fluctuate between these two extremes was very intense, and as the last performance of the weekend started, I found myself having a hard time to concentrate. Naka Akira came on stage, and I could hardly focus at all. But as I sometimes sat down, and then walked around a bit, with my eyes on the stage, it really became apparent how good of a finishing performance it was. I could really not process everything, but there was certainly very interesting elements of his performance. What caught me the most was the focus, a focus which was completely on the model who was being tied up. Her struggle. Her pain. Her exposed flesh and the stillness of suffering in rope. His tying was indeed very still, not in still as in unmoveable, but with a piercing focus. He reminded me of what a friend of mine told me when she spoke of martial arts.
She said that there is always a certain amount of a response to an action and she likened it to a stone being thrown into water. The stone cause a splash, dependent on how big the stone is and the amount of water, depth, etc. What happens after the splash are the rings on the water, smaller, growing bigger, and then finally ebbing out into stillness, leaving the surface of the water again looking untouched. This is probably the best way to try to relate to you the feeling of this show. A movement from within that can cause a tidal wave or flooding, or just a splash and rings on the water. Akira was working like this, very focused and specific, only doing exactly that which was needed, nothing superfluous, and just riding the waves of the reactions of the model. She was indeed on display, in which the positions, tough as they were, were held, him moving out from sight slightly, letting her dwell in the exposure of our gaze.

Shin later told me how Akira apparently had performed to music that he had used in his first performance ever, as well as keeping the tying very traditional. One small example of this was how he in his suspensions did not use carabiners.  I’m afraid the rest of these remarks slipped my mind…

As an end to the Sunday shows at Toubaku and to the Toubaku festival, it was indeed grand.

Although this is not the last post from the Tokyo adventures, it was the last post that covered the Toubaku festival. I would like to take the time to thank the whole crew who made it happen, including the initiator and creator Hajime Kinoko, as well as Mack and Reina whom I know worked so hard to promote and working on this event happen. I don’t know all the people who worked so hard backstage and in the door, and at the bar, etc. but you are all so awesome. Thank you, for the bottom of my heart, as you truly reminded me of the possibilities and endless horizons that rope pose as medium for anything you wish to express.

Domo arigato




Tokyo Day 2

Disclaimer: Due to the fast pace of this journey, and jetlag, massive sensory overload and general crazy rope-time, these accounts are not always as detailed as I would like them to be. Furthermore, if there is anything factually incorrect, please tell me and I will do my best to amend this. I also sadly did not have time to see all the performances nor write down as much as I’ve would have like to. Also, please, if you know the name of the various model’s that the rope-artists worked with, please post. They deserve to be named and get as much credit as the riggers themselves, as they truly shined throughout the event.

This was the first day of the rope-festival Toubaku and as we made our way to the venue, we where both excited. The first performance we caught was that of Nawashi Murakawa‘s kinbaku lifedrawing session. It is like any other life-drawing, except for the model that is holding the poses, is tied up in various shapes, all of which are very aesthetic and translates beautifully onto paper or what ever medium one might prefer. At first, people seemed to prefer watching Murakawa at work and being hesitant on joining in on the actual drawing, but after a while, people started to pick up the coal and the drawing papers, creating beautiful shapes. My own creativity is quite limited to the written and spoken word, so I just enjoyed sitting down and taking it slow. If there is something that I really enjoy with Murakawa’s rope, it his his lines and serenity. The rope is very organic, and seems to fit perfectly both through his hands and with the model, in the same time as his tying style is almost meditative.
The next performance was that of the two Danish friends of mine, who did a powerful and interesting show, with very precise rope, and in which both the skill of Max’s rope and the extraordinary strength of Tina as a model could be showcased. When Tina’s second leg went up to complete the ebi zuri, the audience let out a collective *Gasp*. What also was very touching was to see how Osada Steve watched his disciples on stage, being very aware of every move they did. Both Max and Tina made something that I must imagine to be quite a difficult tie to look almost effortless.

As we then walked down the stairs to inspect the other stage, we walked straight into the performance of Aotsuki Nagare who together with his model created a very intense performance, with bombastic choirmusic with slightly religious undertones. As I was late, I missed a fair amount of the rope-work itself, the model was already tied up as we walked in, but it felt like landing in a victorian sadomasochistic dream, somewhat resembling to The Story of O. I think it was the raw singletail whipping together with Nagare’s victorian looking tailcoat that gave me that impression. As his model was still shaking from the whipping, Nagare than sat down to watch his model, tied into a hip and crotch-harness, standing in front of him, undulating her hips to the point of orgasm. While sitting down watching her, he was also occasionally pressing a boot against her body, against her crotch and cunt. Now, I’m a sucker for these scenarios in general. There is something about boots, feet and masturbation, as well as boots pressing against the body that just does it for me. But what I had a hard time believing, in all of this, was how much she was actually coming. I know that a performance require a certain level of fantasy, but is it so strange for me to become quite doubtful of a fullscale orgasm or two during a performance? This is not me being jealous (or perhaps, an evil man in tailcoat that is pressing his boot against me…well, anyhow), but somewhat of a sceptic. I don’t doubt the honesty of the performance, just the way in which it felt like the female body in general was somewhat simplified. Then again, I’ve always been doubtful when it comes to the ‘control’ over the female orgasm.
But what I did enjoy was the distinct Master/slave dynamic between the two, strong and vivid and in which suffering, sexuality and submission became the central themes of the performance all in all. While there was many shows with clear sadomasochistic elements, few had such a strong sense of M/s as this.
Towards the end, she stood on her knees, offering her hands towards Nagare, who slowly dropped the ropes all over body. As he then carried her out from the stage, I could feel a sense of release and devotion.

The next performace was very different. Mark from Dv8 and Lani from Australia probably did the most ‘Western’ performance during the weekend, in terms of theme, focus and movement. It was a highspeed performance, explosive and modern . The rigger was very precise, working in perfect conjunction with the beats of the music. As a shownumber, it really showed the abilities of another incredibly powerful model, who worked up into a cresecendo and then entered a very dramatic sviwel-sequence of movements.

Another performance that I thoroughly enjoyed so much was that of Umitsuki Kurage. I can’t really pin this performance down very easily. I remember a white juban very clearly, and a very powerful, intimate experience, with a lot of sensitivity and heart.  Kugare is a member of Ichinawa-Kai, a rope-collective managed and sponsored by Kinoko himself, and it was many of the members of this collective who during the weekend stood out from the crowd in their styles and approaches to rope.

Following Kugare, it was time for Hajime Kinoko himself, for his first performance of the weekend. His traditional performances are different from the neo-kinbaku, and it was indeed a show that took both him and the model very far. As they entered the stage both of them wore traditional Japanese clothing and sat down on the floor. The way in which Kinoko starts his sessions is a very distinct one for him, one which both of them sit facing the audience, him sitting behind his model. He first place his right hand on the neck of the model, just holding it there, then moving both of his hands to the shoulders of the model. As he does this, you can  see how the  focus of both him and the one that he ties become condensed toward right here and now. His breathing slows down, so does hers, and her she closes her eyes, lowering her head, and that focus is what you can continue to see throughout any session that Kinoko does. It is such a clear signal that it draws you in as an observer, even if you are not tied yourself.  While this is not a film for the session at Toubaku, it is one which shows his style of tying, and the presence he brings to the way in which he ties.
In this specific performance, there was a focus on the dishevelment of  the model, gradually exposing her by slowly sliding clothes of her, bit by bit, forcing the kimono apart, and invoking a sense of shame in the way she was positioned and moved by him and the ropes that he used.
This concept of working with rope and shame, Suuchinawa, is one which stands very central to Japanese rope practice, and one which was seen in many different configurations during the weekend. I find the concept of shame in general being very interesting, especially from a sociological point of view.  In what situations are we ashamed? How is shame invoked in general in our different societies, and in specific, the different type of kink-communities that we inhabit? There is no point in trying to essentialize these concepts, even if that might be tempting, as they are a part of a ever so changing social world, and one which indeed can be culturally specific but certainly not static in its expressions or the way that shame is invoked. But this is probably a good topic for a whole blog-post on its own, so I will return to the performance of Kinoko-san. As the performance moved on, the rope turned into a more of a tool of not only shame and sensuality, but also a more torturous kind of rope and interaction. He moved the wax-candles over her body, up towards her face, and the trace the candle left looked like black tar over naked skin.  As she was partially suspended from a croth-tie, Kinoko pushed and pressed his model towards the point of tension not allowing the possibility to escape the pain in any way.

The last show at the festival on Saturday which I managed to catch, was the final minutes of Kazami Ranki. The only thing I thought I knew about him was how though he could be both as a rigger and a sadist, but to my surprise, there was not a lot of what I had expected of seme-nawa, torturous rope, going on. There was indeed rope which was truly demanding for the model, but what was so very special about this performance was the incredibly strong connection between them, it literally radiated out in the audience. His presence on stage was matched by that of his model, who again, was clearly such a strong woman. At one point, I could not stop staring at her legs, as the muscles that relaxed and tensed as she was moved in the ropes were so clearly defined. But the most intense moment of all came when Ranki untied her, and as they sat on the floor, something extraordinary happened. When the last strand of rope was about to taken off her chest, she leaned into his arms, and as they cuddled she started crying. It was not long before the last rope had been removed, and at that point, Ranki himself was crying as well. I had never seen anything like it, nor expected to do so. It was a moment where e the audience, including yours truly, was so affected by the feeling of unison and devotion between the two on stage, that they themselves broke out in tears. It was so amazing seeing a rigger and his model being so close to each other through their experience as well as letting us, the audience in on such an amazing show of vulnerability. One might forget from time to time, that even though riggers are the ones who are in control, they are too often so very vulnerable. In order to connect with someone, you really have to open up to not only see them as for they are but also letting those who are tied into one’s own heart. When that happen, magic such as the magic we got to witness in the case of Ranki and his model is indeed created. It was so touching and truly an honor to be allowed to witness this at Toubaku 2011.

To be continued…

The Vivid Dreams

I dreamt so vivid dreams last night. They woke me up several times, and the immediate feeling was that I was lost, so lost, and so in need of what ever it was that I dreamt. Because I loose them you see, the dreams, can only trace them back to the fragments and shells, filled with emotion but no clear narratives.

I returned from Japan on Tuesday evening. Jet-lag has been kicking my ass and I’ve felt out of place, not knowing how to land really, because it was a very special couple of days.  I’m in deep need of some debriefing and I guess this is the place for it.
This first post is going to be about a private experience during Sunday night at The Sleeping Beauty, a members club in Tokyo, run by the same man who organized Toubaku, Hajime Kinoko. I guess I’m writing about this experience first, because I need to get it out of my system.
First of all, Sleeping Beauty rocks. Friendly, warm, relaxed, a great feeling, and it was very easy to socialize a whole night, taking the first tube home.

After filling in a membership form, you enter and immediately take off your shoes off and lock them away. A very nice feeling actually, to be barefoot in a club. After that you can change your clothes in the completely kitted out dressing room, that also have showers where you can freshen up. They even have hairpins, soap, hairspray, etc, that you can borrow. Basically, it rocks.
There is three floors, basement with a dancefloor and a stage, plus seating area, the ground floor with changing rooms, a smaller room where it is allowed to use a cellphone. The first floor has the rooms for exhibitionism and voyeurism, so to say.  You can fuck or watch people fucking and there was none of that sleazy feeling at all. And no experience of any unwelcome attention what so ever, no groping, no harassment of any kind.  The first floor also has a big space for rope-related activities and socializing. It is also worth noting that all the drinks are included.

In the beginning of the evening the place was packed, but as the hours flew by, the crowd evened out somwhat. It felt very good being able to walk around without shoes, in relaxed clothing and still being in a sexpositive, ‘kinky’ (what ever that means!) environment. I was not really planning on anything during the evening, although there was that ever present ache, longing to experience rope. Just walking around, socializing, making friends, expressing admiration towards some of those I had seen on stage at the festival, it was quite enough. I also saw the fun-filled show of Esinem, who sparred against his model with a singletail and she sparred against him with a flogger. It turned into something really fast, hilarious, and utterly awesome. I can understand that people don’t want BDSM to be presented as a farce , but also think that it is important to live with a sense of humor, to be able to laugh with each other.  Joy is one of those things that guide me in my ‘lifestyle’ and oh how much joy Esinem and Inessa gave the audience!

People played with rope all evening, everywhere. It is a special feeling when it is like that, like anything can happen. The standard was incredibly high, and there was a willingness to experiment as well, to share and to talk rope.  Private newaza, long, public sessions, demanding suspensions. One of my favorite moments was when a girl dressed in cargo-trousers and t-shirt kept on trying different techniques for a one-leg suspension, so strong and so determined.
Someone who was very interesting to speak to was a Taiwanese rigger called Shin. Sadly, I missed his show during the festival, but hearing him speak of his rope-practice during a talk-show with other riggers he said a lot of things that really resonated with me (that is for another blog-post though) and we had spoken a bit later that evening and then continued doing that at Sleeping Beauty.
At some point I asked if he would be interested in doing some rope, cause seeing all the strands of jute flying around everywhere really made the longing so very strong. Furthermore, through our conversations, he really stood out as someone who I could trust.
Not expecting anything, a bit later he asked if I would care to practice some shibari with him. I gladly said yes, even if there was a bit of a hickup moment when understanding he meant on the small stage. We spoke a bit, and as always, I told about the slightly annoying fact that my body is not always that understanding of what I want to do. Some muscles in my upper-body,mainly the arms, does not work as they should, so a lot of stretching takes place, but despite this, a simple TK can sometimes be impossible. After a bit of faffing back and forth, I decided to shut up, and do that which I felt like I could; trust his judgement.
Sitting half-naked on that stage together with him, I know that is what the fragments of my dreams has consisted of last night.
Fever Ray sings ‘We are capsules of energy’ , and that was how it felt being tied by Shin that evening.

Relaxing in to the TK, feeling strand after strand working itself around the skin, creating tensions and frictions, a tug here, a movement there. And the mouth of mine started suddenly smiling, and all I wanted to give him was all the possibilities I could  possibly give him. I stopped praying to myself that my body would not let my down, cause he made sure I knew it wasn’t going to.
The yoko suri  is a suspension which has posed problems for me before. Either, my arms has cramped, or I’ve felt faint and dizzy, or  it just has not worked out. Shadow did one which was modified for me during a workshop in Berlin before Xmas (something I still need to write about!), but I kind of had retreated to the notion I would hardly be able to do it at all.  And sure, there was a a second or two of hesitation, not wanting to screw anything up, when Shin started to pull the ropes. The moments when you loose yourself into the inbalance, just seconds before going up, and then realizing “He made it possible” and not feeling any pain, any dizziness, just pure joy and adrenaline and life. Shin continued tying, and I continued smiling.  How strong was he to make this body, the one that I struggle with, to work?  How strong is it possible to make another person?

As I came down again, we sat on the floor, he started to untie and I know I asked him to not make it all stop to early, begged for it to last one more minute. He responded in his mother tongue when I started speaking Swedish. The world was perfectly still, right there and then.

And I guess, that was what I dreamt last night, the fragments of that experience.  A world standing still, so perfectly still, so perfectly strong.


London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage- Part II

Dear reader; I am so sorry for the delay with the updates on this blog.  This summer has been amazing, but I was caught in a net of writer’s block and lazyness.

As the Sunday evening came, so did the main-party. Thanks to Clover and Dave I was provided with  an obi, holding together the kimono I wore.It was also Dave who kindly tied said obi It was indeed one of the most comfortable outfits I ever worn to a party, which just shows that it was not a real kimono… All in all, it was not a genuine kimono nor a ‘genuine’ look, but it was very comfortable to run around in that outfit.

By Echo Photograph

Bunny and I met, her looking gorgeous as always. We wanted to play during the evening, and as the first show started we were already up on the mezzanine, but when Dasniya Sommer went on stage, we took a break to stand and watch a mesmerizing dance between two people. Sommer’srope-partner was wrapped up in a piece of fur, creating beautiful contrast to Sommer, who was naked, if one disregard her amazing haircolour, which matched the color of her pubic hair (attention to details indeed.

The fur and the music made me think of Russia for some reason, but speaking to Sommer a bit later, she said that it was more alluding to animals at play. The double suspension, in which her partner was first suspended and then she joined in was magical and very different from many other shows seen before.  The shows throughout the evening had those unique qualities that made my both cry and laugh, never becoming bored. But as any party, there was a lot of socializing going on, making me miss a performance every now and then.

Shadow did one amazing show again, and with her signature of strong, playful session while still remaining in full control, maintaining the energy from the beginning to the end, using her body as well as the rope to shift the balance of her gorgeous rope-bunny.
It was indeed an evening that both showed the skills of the riggers but also of the rope-models.

The show by Mistress Amrita was one which took us to a interesting place where there was sea, and mermaids and nets, the performers enclosed in a big plastic bag, giving them a sphere where we could see them and they could see us but still a small layer of plastic was between the audience and the performers, giving it even more of a otherworldly feeling and maybe also pushing buttons on voyerism and exhibitionism. Who is actually being watched?

The mermaid was released from a net,suspended, taken down, transformed into a human, to then be pushed head first into water. This piece was so well thought out, with music, outfits, ropes and props taken in to account.

Boykitten,  did a dramatic and powerful selfsuspension in ballet-boots At one point he started to thrash around testing the ropes to the limit and pushing his own body and in the second after, complete control and stillness.  Very impressive and also one of the youngest (the youngest one?) on stage during the weekend.

The highlight was Kinoko’s performance. He had no music, and it was like you were watching private play between two persons. I’ve never been in a room with a couple of hundred people and it been so silent as it was during his performance. When he hit with tiny bamboorods on the top of her feet, you heard the audience draw their breath, and you heard every squeel from Arisa as she was placed in positions I did not know was possible. There was a complete trust, and I can really recommend to view the video. Sensual, emotional, painful, perfect.

Two other performances, both spellbinding and intense in their own right, was still working on very different levels.  Nawashi Murakawa drew us in to a world which felt like travelling through history, to the japanese country side, him walking with two gorgeous female prisoners with ropes around their necks.

Please press play for music similar to the one used in Nawashi Murakawa’s performance.
Hypnotic to say at least, and it really gave the audience something completely else.  The music, the rope-artistry, scenography, it all came together and made complete sense, creating a dream.

Contrasting that was Esinem and Electric Fairy, who did a school-themed suspension scene, with even the music fitting perfectly. (Queen and Pink Floyd to mention a few).E.F was the naughty girl caught perving over her teacher, who then discovers masses of rope in her bag, some sex toys and then an apple. Suitable punishment followed. Esinem always effects you as a viewer, I’ve never seen a show or play by him and not felt it. He and E.F oozes of chemistry and his ropework  is fast, precise and in his sadism there is so much care shining through that they both radiate.

When the shows were all over around 3 o’ clock in the morning the play and party still continued and I only had about 3 hours of sleep before heading back for a final day of related activity.  Let’s hope that post wont be taking as long for me to write as this one.

London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage- Part I

First, an apology:
This post has been long due, and I’m sorry about being so slow. It was due to personal reasons and other worldly things getting in the way of my typing paws.

At times this account of the event is going to be personal. I will do everything I can to not make it too private and uniteresting for you as a reader, but the weekend in itself became something very personal, making it hard to write about it in any other way.

When last year’s London Festival of the Art of Japanese Bondage (LFAJB) took place I had not started to tie yet. I was still enjoying restraints, but my knowledge about restraining someone with rope was limited to the cat’s paw and that was it. I was not in the country when the first annual LFAJB took place, but heard so much about it, and since my situation had changed quite drastically now it was an event I was really looking forward to.
It was easy to click home a full weekend pass, but I was more hesitant about booking a ticket with Kinoko Hajime’s masterclass, which would be the start of the festival on the Friday. I was hesitant because of many reasons. One is that I am a beginner. As a beginner I still fiddle with the basics, getting it not entirely right from time to time. Another thing is that I don’t think I do shibari at all. I do have an interest and a certain affection towards the aesthetics of Japanese culture , but when I tie I can’t call it shibari per se, because that is not yet what I have learned. Because of these things I was afraid to be a liability instead of someone who would be an active learner. In the end I decided it was too good of a chance and did my best to silence those weird voices telling me I would not be able to do it.

As I met my lovely ropebunny for the course  in the morning, we had a talk, drank some water and found our way to the Resistance Gallery,  and we had some time to relax inside while the prep work for a whole weekend with rope went on around us. A huge suspension-frame which needed about 6 people in order to get in place was placed on the scene on the ground floor.

The venue consists of a main ground floor with a stage and a mezzanine,both parts used for classes. With one suspension frame on each floor, one large one on the stage and one slightly smaller on the mezzanine, there was plenty of possibilities for flying. With mats provided for the floors, it was also possible to do a lot of floorwork, or just sit comfortable
.There was a lot of beautiful art on the walls, a stand that would sell really nice japanese food, including sushi that unlike

most part of London was not overpriced. The bar is always in-expensive at the gallery, providing not only alcohol but also tea and coffee for those in need. The whole space was decorated with rope and bamboo-rods, making it homely in a different manner, but homely nonetheless.

Food and drinks on the spot was much appreciated, making it possible to stay late during the whole weekend. Esinem sold his rope, so did www.ouchy.ne.

As the class started I realized I did not need to worry. Kinoko Hajime demonstrated two upper-body ties, both of which names I have forgot (those who were there, could anyone add their wisdom and tell me?) and we students followed him as he tied. It was a hands on, step by step class, and it was very healthy to get this kind of break-down of the components of the ties. The ties themselves were beautiful and demonstrated by our tutor very thoroughly, communicating partially through a translator and partially through  basic English. It became very clear early on how skilled he is, both in his craft and as a tutor, very humble and relaxed, taking a lot of time to make sure we got it right, walking around looking at all of the participants work, correcting here and there or just giving a compliment or constructive advice. All this made up a very relaxed atmosphere. The second tie was demonstrated a bit faster and I just could not keep up the pace, but thank heavens Kinoko handed out a step by step guide to this one, with 112 steps 🙂

I understood that the experience of the participants was split over the whole spectra, some people tied for the first time, while others followed him and then dared to developed the ties, but what caught my eye was how it was a moment to get an insight of the structure and thought behind a purely Japanese style tie, and how specific Kinoko was on this point.

Before I forget it I also want to say a massive thank you to the ropebunny, Electronic Doll, who was a big help if I lost track or was unsure of what I was doing. She was indeed quick to note small things, and I probably would not have been able to finish in a dignified manner without her help.

The two and a half hours ended all too soon, and we packed our bags, parted ways and left for a couple of hours rest before the opening night.

Returning to the opening party in the evening, there was people socializing and viewing the art, as well as tying every here and there. This was something that would continue throughout the weekend, people were not only tying during the classes, but used the space as much as they could, and in every manner possible, which is just one of the many proofs of how successful it was.
As the evening went on, the shows started, and due to illness I had to leave all too early, missing both Kinoko’s first performance, but also missing Maleficent Martini and some other amazing performances.  To read an account of what Electronic Doll saw and did during the Friday evening, click here.

What I did see was Shadows performance, together with Felix. Shadow is a major inspiration of mine, both as a performer and as a teacher. Watching her play with Felix, tying and suspending him touched something very deep within me, a feeling that I later discovered that I shared with many. There is so many strong connections between them, and they shared their experience with each other as well as inviting the audience in to a very visual, emotional and as well physically demanding performance. Felix is very much taller than Shadow but that was of no importance when she started to tie him up.  Their performance was about much more than the physical difference between them (although it is very impressive to see what can be done!)  and it felt like I’ve could have watched them for hours, as she played with him, using rope, antique scissors and knifes, a red cloth, her body and her mind to move her partner.

The classes during Saturday and Sunday

As Saturday came I was happy about not staying up too late and left fairly early together with the guests I had in the house for the weekend, Clover and Wykd Dave, to go to the gallery.
I met Bunny there who is someone who I have been tying with for some time, we had bought the couples ticket in order to get as much as possible out from the weekend together. The first one was a talk with aforementioned Shadow, who spoke about how to take care of rope. Now some people, like me, are lazy bastards. I love my rope and I like to be able to take care of it well. So far I’ve only bought treated rope and I’ve never been disappointed. But she made me a bit curious, and as the summer approaches I think there will be enough time for me to treat rope for the first time, thanks to a very thorough talk done by Shadow. One of the top tips she gave was the microfiber towels that are excellent for cleaning the ropes, something I’ve started doing.

Another talk was Esinem’s talk on bondage and safety. I attended this, because my general view is that even if you heard it one time before, or 10 times before you can always hear it one more time. One of the most important bits that he mentioned was nerve-damages, how they can occur, what a damage can be and above all, how different we all are. As he said, no one looks the same on the outside so why would we look the same on the inside? Esinem is very keen on getting in contact with anyone who has ever experienced nerve-damages, as a bottom or top, by the way.  Since there is not much information or even research being made on bondage-related nerve-injuries he want to rectify that. If you have something that you would consider sharing on the matter, I think he would not mind to get in contact with you.
Another thing in the rope and safety; I find it very handy to be aware as a bottom also, to know your body, and know how you might react to different things. Security is for everyone basically.

Me and Bunny did a chest tie class as well, together with Kinoko. This was a repetition of one of the ties from the masterclass, which was very handy to get another try with. Kinoko did several talks during the weekend, one of which was a demo about some of the differences from how shibari looked like 50-60 years ago. There was many details that were different, such as cinches on chest-harnesses, or wraps of rope around a limb, and although it might sounds like small differences, he emphasized the reason why shibari had changed since. To sum it up in one word; safety. The developed style is now much more safe, and it is only those who are very, very experienced who should try to emulate or play with that style. Another class with Kinoko, was one in which he went through how to actually make rope something more than wrapping a person up. He demonstrated different techniques, using everything he could from the rope, like sound and smell (tracing the rope close to the ear or face), to himself (different punctuation, varying speed,) and there was always, always much emphasis on balance and not only aesthetically but also the physical body.  One of the first things Kinoko did was emphasizing this, showing it how with his hands making sure that the rope-bunny is grounded and as a way of starting the scene it was also interesting to see how he made that into an element in which the scene started, and through different types of touch, for example making sure that a chest tie is leveled, he placed his hands on the rope-bunny, using them both practically and as a way of maintaining and harnessing the contact. This can be seen in the video’s that Esinem so kindly has posted from the weekend.

Two workshops were running in the same time, one on the mezzanine and one on the ground floor, with the mezzanine one often on a more introductory level.

Many of the classes were hands on, some of them talks, and some of them demo’s, due to practicalities. It is literally impossible to cover all of the topics that was dealt with during the Saturday and Sunday, and my memory is not the most well-functioning, but some other topics; self-suspensions, lower body ties (including a suspension harness by Kinoko that made the translator having to say ‘cunt’ on stage). Seeing Arisa (Kinoko’s partner) squirm from the tight crotch-rope and to the be suspended just centimeters of the ground was something else. Other topics were; connection with your rope-partner, partial suspensions, introductions to Shibari,introductions to suspensions, bondage photography, yoga with rope, suspension and transitions, and that is only a part of the selection.
Due to the large selection and a tight schedule delays occurred early, and when there was a small mishap with a introductory workshop being cancelled, Dasniya stepped in and held beginners classes by the side of the stage, creating a third possibility to learn more. What was great about all of this was that the organizers did not have any problems with letting each and every class take the time it was supposed to, and everyone who was a part of this really thought on their feet, adapting to what was happening. Even then during the breaks people continued tying, talking about rope etc. All this made the learning days into something wonderful.

So, that was the part which dealt with the classes, what more happened? The Saturday evening had movies on the schedule, one of which was the London premiere of Kinbaku, the art of Bondage (2009), which you can see here, but also order from Esinem if you want a copy of your own.

The movie itself was wonderful to see on a larger screen, and once again I’m amazed how Finns manage to turn everything so dark but still keep the passion. Is it the vodka or the sauna’s that create it? Maybe the reindeer meat, I don’t know.

After many movies and a lot of tying everywhere, many were venturing out to Subversion which had a Japanese theme for the evening. I was not one of them, I was still feeling rough in a bad way and wanted to last the whole weekend.
As a slight side note, but still important, was my sudden pang of ehhh…bravery when I started talking with Kinoko during the evening. I said how much I appreciated what he taught so far and was looking forward to the coming show the day after. And all of a sudden I hear myself, through the interpreter, asking Kinoko Hajime if he, at some point, maybe, could possibly want to tie me. I think I out of nervousness added a couple of words that I for now don’t remember, but suddenly I had said it and thought that the worst thing that could happen was me getting a no. I didn’t. Stunned, I saw him smile and nod, and saying something in Japanese that was translated into a ‘yes, maybe tomorrow?’.

Being tied by Kinoko Hajime

I guess that was when I started to blush and stutter a bit. But I decided later to skip the party and got some sleep. Or well I was mostly nervous, twisting and turning in my bed, trying to not think ‘what ifs’; ‘what if my body goes into sick mode and I will miss this’; ’what if my muscles decide to fail me in ways they have not failed before?’; ‘what if I don’t know my abilities and just asked for something stupid?’; ‘what if I can’t communicate with him when it’s time and I need to tell him something’. And so on.
On the Sunday, the classes started a bit later to give everyone who was out partying a chance to get a few hours of sleep. When me and my friends arrived, the classes had already started and we sat down in the sofas to listen in a bit on the class that went on at the mezzanine.

Kinoko sat also in one of these couches, we said good morning and then all of a sudden asking me if it was possible for me to be tied up  in the next break. I nodded and smiled (and probably blushed) and my nerves went off again.

He started with me sitting on the floor, tying my arms in front of my, like I was praying.From the beginning, he was paying attention to every little detail, correcting the ropes if they were not millimeter perfect. I found myself looking at the red ropes he was using, thinking that I had nothing to worry about. Being tied by Kinoko is something I will never, ever forget. First of all, all the worries I had about language, not being able to verbally communicate disappeared when he started to speak to me with rope and I had only to feel to give an answer. Second of all; I felt strong, despite being tied tighter and tighter my muscles responded and dealt with the different pressures. The way he tied me, made me feel strong, and I was allowed to feel his skills  trough the rope. When he attached the first rope to the suspension ring (kindly provided by Wykd Dave in the last minute) everyone and everything around me disappeared, except for what he was doing and it became harder and harder for people to invade the bubble that was the rope, him and me. The cloth used as a blindfold soaked up a few tears I shed. Strangely, I really recall that feeling, of tears drying off, disappearing, rather than slowly dripping. I was suspended in a sitting position, and the minutes flying like seconds. It was like every cell of my body could feel the red rope and I truly hope that he felt that I felt just that.
The untying was as dynamic as the tying, as Kinoko utilized the rope, its sensations, sounds and movement. When the blindfold came off I suddenly saw everyone, became aware of people watching and I just wanted them to look away, while in the same time feeling proud and somewhere deep inside, the exhibitionist started to giggle. We moved aside a bit to do the last untying, but it was not until the final rope was gone that the bubble was almost gone. My legs were shaking, we thanked each other and my legs were still shaking. They continued to do so for a large part of the day which meant that I missed a lot of the classes, at least as my brain refused to function properly.

That day went by quite quickly, and then it was time for the main-party. Which will be in a separate post.

A second loveletter; or ‘Of course I’m bloody nervous!’

Here is the first loveletter
Tomorrow, or today, I’m doing a class with Kinoko Hajime, a shibari/kinbaku star, who is visiting London for the London Festival of the art of Japanese Bondage.

Amongst workshops, shows and art, this movie is going to be shown, a movie well worth watching, at least for me who does not have much insight in to the japanese ropeculture.

And yes, I am really nervous, on many levels. First of all, I don’t think I do shibari nor kinbaku. I rope people up and while I sometimes get roped in a style that can be described as shibari or kinbaku, I am not even close to that, even if I might like myself to be just that. I can’t say that I have a style, only intentions and a love for everything that happens when rope is close. And it kind of feels alright, because in the same time I want to learn. So tomorrow is going to be about learning, soaking up as much as I can, and NOT hammering myself for being in-experienced.
If I can get rid of this cold, and my own silly thoughts about my inferiority, this amazing weekend ahead, should be everything I want it to be.

As a good student, I’ve been trying to see who Hajime is and what’s his thoughts about what he does is. I found this at the SM-detective and some movies here. And there is something about his style that is just plainly *kapaow*. But it is not only about style, it is about content, context and heart. Now, I don’t use chopsticks, but I so know what he means when he says this:

“Objects that are touched daily develop a soul (tamashi). I touch my rope as much as I touch my chopsticks–every day. It is as if my senses and nerves run through the rope and I can feel as if the rope is an extension of my own senses. As I tie the model I can feel her heartbeat. I can feel what she is thinking. I can feel her sweat via the rope. If my model is struggling with something, or had suffered something bad I can feel that. Many times she ends up feeling very well afterwards, but I have to throw up.”
Kinoko Hajime

It is there that I want to be.to arrive at that point and continually travelling. And it is is more, it is like an alphabet. An extension of my hands and my body A tactile, almost wordless alphabet I almost can’t do without, or want to do without. It is a conversation, a room, a space, a time, a language and more or one will.

It drives me to do more, to feel, to know the ropes, to trace ropemaps over my body or someone else’s body.
It is the jute in a neat coil before, and in a messy pile afterwards. It is the sweat, the loud silence and the thing that silence my thoughts and overloaded mind. It is the fuzz that can be seen on black fabric.
It is about sleeping with the head on the pillow and the jute next to me, feel the smell and wake up with the feeling of them next to me.

Shortly, it is everything I want  to be and it is so much that I long for.

Here’s for an amazing weekend ahead!