Tag Archives: Japan

Tokyo- Day I

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.
This was a  journey that I decided to do just two weeks prior to departure, but I could never really imagine or think how and what actually would happen. The journey was mainly about attending Toubaku, a rope-festival organized by Hajime Kinoko, but it really turned into something more, something very special.  The fact that I have never been to Japan enhanced the excitement prior to departure. Before boarding the plane,flying from Heathrow with a short layover in Italy, my mind was mainly spinning with tiredness, but also trying to focus it on a special mode; the ‘I know nothing’ mode. Coming to Japan and remain in the safe bubble of that which you know, felt like a sorry place to be in. So instead; try to look at all the rope from the angle of ‘First time seeing rope ever’ was the approach I tried to take as the plane lifted.
Arriving, meeting up with travelbuddy and ropemodel extraordinaire J was not as tricky as finding our way to the apartment, clearly an adventure on its own, but was made easier by good directions given by our hosts and a very friendly face (albeit a tad bit tired) that met us at the airport on Friday morning.

After installing ourselves, we headed out to look at the town and get a snack to eat before meeting up with Osada Steve and two friends of mine who I first met at Copenhagen Shibari Dojo.
I must admit there was an element of nervousness in meeting Steve, as well as meeting the other master of rope, the master who would be teaching the evenings class. We headed towards a studio, in which Miura Takumi would give a class to Steve, the Danes called Max and Tina, and a friend of Steve’s, NdT.   At this point, I was even more happy about the lovely Danish couple being around, as they gently guided me through points of etiquette.  They had already been in Tokyo for a couple of weeks, and would stay there for six weeks, studying and living in the Studio Six, following the disciple/sensei tradition. Seeing them doing this was wonderful, working hard and diligently and with such a sincere will to understand and develop their art,  in the same time as they were not afraid of the occasional beer (they are Danes you know..Danes and Beer…).

Upon arrival, we removed the shoes and entered the studio. It was a spacious and calm room, one section for seating and socializing and another for rope-practice. As Takumi arrive, we were  all introduced, bowed  and then class starts by him speaking of different historical backgrounds of rope in the Japanese culture and religion,  before moving on to the tying.

The first minutes I really tried to rationalize, recognize and organize the input into patterns that would fit my own knowledge. It is so easy to do this, everyday we are encouraged to know, to be able to grasp what we see according to our frameworks, to the taxonomies of what we already understand. But as the time passed, it really came back to me, that sense of a need to not do all of this. To just take it in, see it right there and then and not trying to organise, not trying to place think so much of where it all ‘fits’. It is certainly not a simple task, can’t say that I did succeed all the time, but it was much more rewarding to be aware of my own position rather than assuming it and trying to adapt the world according to it. And above all, it highlighted how little I know or understand.

Now, I was asked to not describe the actual ties here on the blog, and after seeing them I certainly can understand why. By really going back to the historical hojojutsu patterns, the ties where effective as well as not for everyone to play with. At this point, NdT joined us, who is someone who have lived for many years in Tokyo.  As it where, yours truly was going to be the ropemodel of  NdT during this class. After a day of travelling, throwing oneself in to such a place as Tokyo, it was certainly a treat to be tied and by skillfull hands as well.
At one point, I was asked to “pretend like you are a little girl running around in the Japanese countryside” and what else to do but to obey? Usually, fighting back and running around like a mad hatter is not a problem for me (as anyone who has ever met me can vouch for) but with the many hours of travelling+ being nervous, I just turned giggly and silly and thusly, ended up on the floor in a matter of seconds. Which was, indeed, a very good place to be.
Another tie, which was immensly enjoyable  was one in which Takumi described as the one in which he uses the largest amount of rope. It felt like gradually being encased in a cocoon of jute, and was also very comfortable as a suspension. This suspension made everything quiet, the world was right there and then and nothing more, nothing less. Slow breathing, exact breathing, a tug of rope here, a limited movement there.

How do you feel about the amount of rope that you use? Some prefer as little as possible, others like using more. Myself, I think I’m in the camp of ‘what ever amount is enough is the right amount’. So one length or 6 or even 10, what works works. Although, being tied myself, I often fall into the ‘a lot of rope is good rope’, but, on the other hand, I have been proven to be wrong on that on more than one occation. The challenge to turn one rope into all that you need is very fun, and to be on the receiving end of such an experience is intense to say at least. In a later blogpost, this experience will be explored.

After the class, NdT asked me and the travelfriend if we wanted to go and experience a mistress-bar, and how could we say no to this offer? Or actually, poor travelbuddy wanted to sleep, but mad skills of persuasion and the very kind offer from NdT’s part, convinced her as well. But this, dear readers, is a story which will have to wait until later.

Thank you for reading these posts, any kind of feedback, thoughts or questions are always welcome. Questions I can’t answer will of course be redirected  to those more knowledgeable individuals and fellow kinbaku lovers.

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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.

 


A little bit more to read

While travelling, I still want to keep you, dear readers, occupied. I know I’ve not been the best doing so far this summer, but here comes two links that especially for us rope-maniacs I think will be very interesting.

First one is this blog, Ai Nawa, a reflective blog on kinbaku, it’s history, culture and philosophy.

Then we also have some additions in our blogroll, and I’m proud to present the awesome Sex is not the enemy as well as Shelby Knox, and Yes Means Yes

There you go, part rope stories, part queer sexpositivism and feminism.