Minomura Kou: A great man has fallen (1980)

cover minomura itoh

I am happy to present to you a translation of a long text that Minomura Kou wrote about his reminiscences of Itoh Seiu and published in the magazine SM Collector in November 1980. I will not spoil it with further comments of my own – but I will ask again anyone finding this blog to be of interest to consider making a small donation. Details here: https://kinbakubooks.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/call-for-donations-5/

Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

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A great man has fallen 

by Minomura Kou

My primary profession was as a painter. I was an apprentice for a Japanese painter called Kobayashi Baisen [1889–1969] in Kyoto. I was there until I joined the navy. I became strange [”oka-shi”] after coming back from the war.
I started to submit paintings to Kitan Club and somehow along the way I became an editor. Around that time, I also started writing stories and fiddling with the camera. Before long, I became a nawashi. My pen name for my paintings was ‘Kita Reiko’, which is my wife’s maiden name. I just used it as it is. One might wonder why I would use my wife’s name as a pen name, but there are many reasons for it and I can’t possibly write about all of it without this becoming too long. Simply put, Minoru-san [the editor] of Kitan Club, thought it would be best.
When I came back from the navy, I first became an editor for a local newspaper in Kyoto. From there I became a reporter and it was my first time in this profession. My first experience with printing type was before I was born. My parents were in the printing business and doing work for the publishing business. So, it’s safe to say I was in the right place.
Also, I’ve written about this before as a chance, but my grandfather was an eager collector of SM (though there wasn’t a word for it back in the old times… The term seme that Seiu-sensei used, was only used long after my grandfather’s time), and it thrilled me to the point to leading me down this path.
If I had been a dry-goods-dealer’s son… or maybe a greengrocer’s son, I would probably have remained only a reader of these kinds of things. However, being born into a family in the printing business, I grew up playing with printing types and watching the process of publishing various things. On top of which, I also had the beautiful seme-e [artistic images of torment] my grandfather left behind, and I thought I also wanted to paint pictures like that. So, I went to art school and became an apprentice for a Japanese painter. Amidst all of this, the war came and I had to take a break from this to join the navy. I barely stayed alive. In the end, it led me to the ropes and here I am.
I first heard about Itoh Seiu-sensei when I was 12–13 years old. He had painted some of the seme-e included in the book “Hentai fuuzoku shiryou” [1929] that was in my grandfather’s book collection, and there was also an introduction to his art.
Much later, in 1954, I met him in person in Tokyo. Mr. Saito Yaigo and Mr. Dan Oniroku have written a lot about Itoh Seiu-sensei, so there is no need for me to say much more, but he was the starting point for the birth of SM magazines. He is also a kind of master [shi] to me. My only regret is, however, that I never had the chance to be called his apprentice [deshi].
When I was working with Kitan Club, I received a letter from him, and in it said, “I’ll take you as a pupil [門下, monka] if you want to”. That was however only after I had written to him many times asking for his permission. However, the one accepted as a disciple was Kita Reiko, and the letter was also addressed to Kita Reiko. It seems he thought I was a woman. At the time, I was in Sakai in Osaka and working as an editor for Kitan Club and drawing under the pen name Kita Reiko. It was there that Sensei saw my paintings and that was the start of it.
It all started with me replying under my pen name to show my gratitude, but with time the exchange of letters grew. The contents of sensei’s letters were mostly about paintings; They were skilfully written on Japanese paper, stating things such as “that lamp is better drawn in this shape”, and “when a woman’s hair starts to become disarranged, it’s like this” etc, and he would also clarify for me the intentions of his drawings. Just like a kind master teaching his female apprentice.
As this progressed, it was hard for me to tell him that I was actually a man, so I never did.
Then, one day I received a letter where he wrote “…A play called Christ in Bronze will be played in Osaka and [the actress] Hanayanagi Okiku will be tied up in it, so please go see it. Also, I have written to [the kabuki actor] Ichiawa Kojiro about you, so take this other letter I’ve included with you and meet with him…”, etc.
I was troubled. I thought: ‘This has become quite a mess’. This other letter where he had written about me to Kojiro, was in an envelope, but it was not sealed, so I read it.
It said: “the woman bringing this letter is my disciple Kita Reiko. She is a female painter…”, etc.

He wrote that Reiko is researching seme-e and that he thought this play would be a great opportunity to learn. It was a very detailed introduction to Reiko.
Ichikawa Kojirou has now [1980] already passed away [1957], but he was famous for his acting. In this play, he was playing a persecuted Christian, a very important character.
I knew nothing of kabuki or of theatre at all, but I had heard he was somebody referred to as danna [Master] in the dressing room. He was actually one of the best, but I only found that out later.
Nevertheless, I was troubled.
The letter said, “the woman bringing this letter….”, but I am a man so nothing could be done. Even if I had my wife go in my place, he would probably know something was wrong as soon as they started talking.
What to do, what to do…? I regretted replying to sensei with my pen name from the start. However, I also couldn’t not go see the play “Bronze Christ”. Receiving countless of kind letters, slowly dragging myself deeper into the lie I had started with, now it had come to this. I was at my wit’s end when Minoru-san, the editor of Kitan Club, said: “I don’t really think there’s a problem. Go meet that Ichikawa Koujiro and tell him the truth. There are a lot of reasons for this, so don’t think about it too much!”
To tell the truth, the publishing company wanted the readers to believe that Kita Reiko was a woman and slowly it had become like this. It wasn’t like I wanted to deceive sensei at all. So, with that conclusion I decided to write a reply to sensei. I thought that it would be the end of my apprenticeship, so I wrote by the name Reiko. But the letter was returned to sender. Only three days later, I received a new letter from sensei. The correspondence became heavy. I decided to meet Mr. Ichikawa Koujiro and explain the circumstances and send my apologies to sensei through him. To make it smoother, I thought I would attend the closing party for “Bronze Christ”. Although I was scared, I thought it was a good opportunity to apologise and decided to go. Even so, as the day came, I’m sure you readers can imagine I was worried.

*

It was the last performance for ”Bronze Christ”. The people in the dressing room were busy. I remember feeling it wasn’t a place for someone like me.
I finally met Mr. Koujiro. He scratched his head as he read the letter from sensei. He looked puzzled and said: “Are you the person in question?” It was the last performance of the play and he was still in his stage clothes. From there, I told him everything from the beginning to end and ended with saying to him: “… so this is how it is. Can you please tell him this when you get back to Tokyo?”
Mr. Koujiro said: “Mr. Seiu told me about you. He said that you are a young and beautiful woman, so I was wondering when she’d come by. It has been on my mind. Today is the last performance, so I had almost lost hope of her coming”, and smiled bitterly.
“Even so, you’re a cruel person. Seiu-sensei will surely telephone me once I get back to Tokyo… but what am I to say?”, he said and pondered.
I was also troubled by this. What should I do?
Koujiro said: “Seiu-sensei has talked about coming to see you in Osaka, so what will you do? Until now, you’ve said you’re a woman, and you should not make an old man disappointed… No, I will say I met a beautiful woman…”
That’s what he said. That he would be lying to Seiu-sensei until the end. Mr. Koujiro wasn’t wrong to think like this; it was an act of kindness towards an old man. He asked me what he should tell Seiu-sensei about his meeting with Kita Reiko. Looking at the letters I received after this, it seems Mr. Koujiro really told him Reiko was a very beautiful woman.
“Bronze Christ” was well played, and highly praised in the newspapers. It might sound uneducated coming from a lowly person like myself, but I remember the scene with Hanayanagi Okiku being crucified as very realistic. I was taken in by her expression of anguish and her movements.
On that day, it was the last performance. The stage curtains went down and I was a bit absentminded. I could see Mr. Koujiro, waving to me, saying: “Here, come here, this way”. Going under the curtains on to the stage, there was a table with a white cloth laid out and on it was sake and beer and some snacks.
Before long, an important-looking person came and greeted everybody and proposed a toast. In hindsight, I think this is probably some kind of custom for the last day of performance.
I knew nothing of this theatrical world, and didn’t think anything but just raised my sake glass. Bando Mitsugoro, a famous kabuki actor (he later passed away from fugu poisoning in Kyoto) and Ms. Hanayanagi Okiku were standing right next to me! We were being jammed together and our shoulders bumped together so I unintentionally spilt the glass of sake in my hand. I hadn’t noticed that I was in the best seat of honour. I’ve been thinking of this a lot afterwards, but I was young back then. I didn’t think of the position my lowly self was in, so the others must have thought: “Who is he? What a helpless person, he doesn’t even have proper manners!”
And so, I went to Tokyo in 1954 and worked for the company Amatoria-sha and became an editor for the magazine Amatoria. This later lead to meeting Seiu-sensei, but it was my impression that he did not suspect that I was indeed Kita Reiko. After a sequence of events, he even seemed to think I was her husband.
He said things like: ”Minomura-kun, is Reiko doing well?”
Not knowing what to answer I said: ”Y-yes! She is doing very well!”
For this reason, it seems that sensei really thought that Reiko was his disciple, and that Minomura Kou only was an editor. However, Kita Reiko is indeed a part of me, so in this sense I am truly sensei’s disciple.
In this weird way, the incorrect assumption continued into sensei’s grave. I will talk more about this later, but I have a feeling sensei surely knew the truth, but then decided to pretend to not know of it. In the early days, there was this letter from sensei addressed to Reiko that sounded like a love letter, depending how you read it (of course, at this point, sensei must have thought Reiko to be a woman). Weirdly, sensei kept perceiving his dreamlike romance, and to this day I think it’s a bit strange. It would be sad and unfortunate if the illusion of the sweet Reiko would be destroyed by my appearance. Then again, the great Seiu-sensei was probably not somebody that would fuss over something like that. He was by nature a person with a very kind heart, and he might have forgiven me for the fact that the illusion is only an illusion.
I know the late Mr. Takahashi Tetsu heard of these love letters of Seiu-sensei from somebody, and searched for and tried to get a hold of them, but that came to nothing. It seems Mr. Takahashi Tetsu didn’t have the best impression of me, and I know the reason for this, so we weren’t close at all. Mr. Tetsu’s reason for disliking me had to do with Mr. Numa Shoso. Shortly before coming to Tokyo, there was an issue of Kitan Club where Mr. Takahashi Tetsu was criticised by Mr. Numa, and this strangely bothered Mr. Takahashi. In this instance, Mr. Takahashi knew I was an editor for Kitan Club and that was how our problematic relationship started. He must have thought I had egged on Mr. Numa to criticise him, so we weren’t really on good terms.

bild 1Picture 1: The first time I saw fully nude shibari

I just investigated about this and found out that Mr. Numa’s ‘Takahashi criticism’ was published in the 1954 April issue of Kitan Club. I’ve found a lot of interesting articles looking back at Kitan Club like this, so I’ll talk about some of them. For example, Itoh Seiu-sensei’s essay in the 1953 January issue of Kitan Club. The title is ”My Emotional Landscape When Drawing Women in Torment”. This is the text:

I was only 17 years old when I started wanting to draw women in torment. To be blunt, it was because of my youth and horniness. I was a sculptor’s apprentice then, made minimum wage, and had no experience tormenting women. I used to put thin paper over newspaper images of women to copy them, and then draw rope on top of the images. I was once caught by another apprentice doing such thing, and remember my face turning bright red. With time, I began making a living out of painting, and I can still remember the joy I felt when I sketched my young wife (who was not extraordinarily pretty in any way), tied up with a kimono sash.
   For a while, I thought that the best way to study women being tormented was to go to the theatre. I began going in and out of the dressing rooms of various theatre performances, where I took photos of male actors who play women’s parts, and sketched them in rope. Those who had no understanding of what I did labelled me “pervert”, but I did not care. I enjoyed my “investigations”, and those investigations of “women in torment” have now been going on for more than forty years. I had no idea where I would end up, nor did I have a clear goal. I simply loved “women being tormented”, and was obsessed with my drawings. Just like a person who loves fishing goes out to fish, I decided to go deeper and deeper into my interests. Since there are no other reasons behind my work, I like to think my emotional landscape when drawing women in torment is no dofferent than that of Utamaro when he was painting shunga. There are no scenes of women being tormented in shunga, but I believe that the aesthetics at the core – that of making something ugly into something beautiful – is something that my work shares with shunga.
   The fact that Kitan Club, a magazine specializing in the reverse (?) was created in the Kansai area and not Tokyo, proves the intelligence and business-orientated mindset of those originating from the Kansai area.

   The publisher has used an amateur female painter to spark an interest in people. The works of Kita Reiko, a woman, are very good, and have a quite feminine, soft touch. She has been like a kite pulling everybody along the way. But it almost seems, though, like publishers and fans of fetish culture applaude Kita’s work simply because of the fact that she is a woman. Not differentiating her work from her gender is a messy way to kill her career. Businessmen today, even in the publishing business, don’t take care to let people go through training. They care more about the already established people and that is a bad habit. It would take me another 10 years to train and refine the woman Kita Reiko.
   As someone who did not complete elementary education, my own drawings are not that different from those done by amateurs. Those who can only create compositions from still life are unable to sketch moving people. You are only a “professional” if you both have full knowledge of the human body and anatomy, and are able to come up with compositions of scenes of torment. Beyond that is up to your talent. To draw women being tormented it takes, like Lao-Tzu once said, “nine years to fully accomplish it and become whole.”
That’s what Seiu-sensei wrote. Thinking about it, it was probably Minoru-san from Kitan Club who had asked him to write this contribution.

 

bild 2Picture 2

bild 3Picture 3: A disarrangement of the Japanese hair style

I received the photos (1) and (2) from Seiu-sensei one time when he treated me to drinks in Ikebukuro. Sensei usually drank at a place called Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi, but I think he had errands in the area that day. I was a simple restaurant, and sensei suddenly said: ”I’ll give you these”, and put the photos on the table. Looking at the pictures, I saw that it was pictures of a fully nude woman tied with her hands behind her back with aranawa [straw rope].
I heard myself spontaneously making a sound, surprised to see the photos: ‘Oh…!’. Now days, it is not uncommon with fully nude shibari, but at that point in time, they were very rare. I was shown these most stimulating things I’d ever seen and my head started spinning. That’s how thrilling it was.
‘S-sensei…!’
‘I’ll give them to you if you like them.’
‘Really? For sure? Thank you!’
I was touched. This was before Uramado was published, so pictures of a woman tied up with aranawa were practically non-existent; They were treasures. Frankly, the blood was rushing to my crotch.

Sensei also had his bad sides. He got me drunk and showed me, someone who likes these kinds of things, these photos. Seeing this, your hearts starts racing and your face grows red. My excitement was anticipated, and my crotch got hard, and seeing this, sensei grinned. I carefully took the three photos I received that night home to my apartment in Hatagaya. When I came home, I masturbated and it felt like my hips were melting.

Of the three photos I received, sensei liked the third best. As noticeable in his drawings, sensei liked the traditional Japanese hairstyle that had become disarranged. This scene probably spoke to him on a sexual level, seeing the cord tying the hair almost about to snap. Speaking of photos, photo (4) is treasured masterpiece.

bild 4Picture 4: Is that your wife, so gruesomely suspended?

I received this photo along with the others. At the time, I was an editor for Uramado, and this was to be published in the magazine. It’s probably an unpublished treasure. I don’t know when it was taken, but looking at the photo, it looks like it was taken in sensei’s art studio. Sensei had done a suspension of his pregnant wife like in the image ”The Lonely House on Adachi Moor” and wrote about the hardships he had encountered in Kitan Club. Perhaps photo (4) is from that time?
They must have thought ‘how about this?’, tried to take a photo, setting the focus on the camera. However, it seems the rope was slowly slipping, so it didn’t go too well.
The person to the left seems to be sensei, but back then they didn’t have the flashlight cameras or panchromatic film we have today.
They had to retake many of the photos, so it is most likely one of those retakes. Nowadays, there are loads of automatic cameras, but that’s not how it was back then. This photo shows just how hard it was taking photos with those old cameras.
It goes without saying he couldn’t do it without the pregnant model and her do-or-die spirit as she is tied up and suspended, but I think about Seiu-sensei with respect when I think about the tenacity needed doing this.

bild 5Picture 5: Tying up a kabuki oyama

bild 6Picture 6: Torment and the beauty of a traditional Japanese hairstyle

The photo (5) is a very rare photo from a glass plate. It’s taken with a dry plate, and the person in it is probably a kabuki oyama [male actor in female kabuki role]. As sensei had mentioned in ”My Emotional Landscape When Drawing Women in Torment”, he entered the world of kabuki to research for scenes of tormented women. There is a story published in Kitan Club that is about precisely this, in his series of texts labelled ”sexual fluids” [1954].
The oyama in the picture was probably somebody important in the kabuki world, but I can no longer remember the name. The same applies to the woman in picture (6), and it’s such a shame that the names are forgotten. This was taken at a certain SM-enthusiast meeting where Seiu-sensei himself tied up a beauty. In pictures (7) and (8), you can see Seiu-sensei standing behind her. These are very rare photos.
Maybe, some of the readers will look at picture (7) and think: ‘Oh, but that’s me!”

bild 7Picture 7: SM-enthusiasts surrounding the yukata-clothed Seiu-sensei

This event was held by the owner of Chikusui bookstore, Mr. Itoh Chikusui. Quite a few were present at the meeting. There were some people I know, and some have already passed away. Seiu-sensei, clothed in a yukata stands in the middle. The old man in the front row, wearing a white shirt with his hands on his knees is Mr. Itoh Chikusui.
I believe he has done much for other enthusiasts, also for me, and he passed away shortly before Seiu-sensei did. The two were good friends, and although they did argue from time to time, in essence they got along well.
Among the people behind them are authors, critics – a whole world of able persons.
It has slipped away from me whom the beautiful woman sitting in front of Seiu-sensei is, but I’ve heard she was quite exquisite. In picture (8), Seiu-sensei is forcefully making her sit down by holding her collar in that pose. That’s some nice care to give.

bild 8Picture 8: Seiu-sensei creating a pose

I’ve been to this kind of photo sessions with sensei several times, and he has a lot of fun tying women up. His eyes become squinty and he is like a fish in the water.
Picture (9) is a piece that he worked hard for, the ”Snow Torment” [yukizeme, 雪責]. Sensei has written a lot about this photo session in the snow. However, it isn’t made clear who the model is. Thinking back, I wish I had asked him about that, but nothing can be done now.
I have done shibari in the snow as well, and it is very difficult for both the model and the photographer. Your limbs feel like they are falling off, so you can’t really express the beauty of torment. With that in mind, sensei must’ve struggled during that photo session.

bild 9Picture 9: A scene of the famous Snow Torment, where the model fainted

In pictures 10–15, aranawa is used to tie the models at the photo session. Picture 11 is the same oyama mentioned before, and as always, you can feel sensei’s infatuation with the disarranged traditional Japanese hairstyle.

bild 10Picture 10: Black hair and rope wound together, becoming one

bild 11Picture 11: An elegance you don’t see nowadays

bild 12Picture 12: A torture scene filled with lyricism

Looking very closely at pictures 13 and 14, I feel that they look like an oyama. What do you readers think?

bild 13bild 14Pictures 13 & 14: I would like to replicate these scenes

bild 15Picture 15: Another scene of torment and disarranged hair

Returning to that night at the restaurant in Ikebukuro, I was treated to drinks and given the photos that would be published in Uramado.
”…Let’s go”, sensei said and asked for the bill and paid it.
Sensei’s wallet looked like a small cloth bag and at the opening there was a long string attached. He would wind up the string and take out the money when paying.
”Thank you for the treat”, I said politely.
”Well then…”
We went to the Ikebukuro bus-terminal and took a bus bound for Shinbashi.
I’ve been lost since coming to Tokyo, no sense of direction, so sensei told me ‘come with me’, and I just followed him.
Something memorable happened during the bus-ride. After sitting on the bus for 30 minutes, a woman with a traditional Japanese hairstyle boarded. She looked like a geisha. The smell of hair oil filled the bus.
”That’s nice, right? Really nice…”, sensei said to me and tried to peek down the back of her collar. He must have been fantasizing about tying up a geisha.
‘That is nice…yeah… Really nice’, he said, and tried peeking down her collar again. He kept saying ‘that’s nice’, over and over again, as if looking for conformation from me.
I signalled that I agreed with him, and looked at the expression on his face, happy as a baby. I accompanied him to Shinbashi, but I strangely can’t recall what we did. Sensei usually drank at a place called Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi. The mistress there had a beautiful way of walking, and was overall a sensual woman. It was obvious that she was sensei’s type. The mistress was a big fan of Seiu-sensei, and in a room where only regulars could sit, there was seme-e with rich colours, that everybody looked at while drinking. When sensei got drunk, his slim-wasted kimono slowly unravelled, and when that happened his fundoshi would show. At times, the fundoshi would loosen, and his penis would fall out. When this happened, the mistress of the bar carefully tucked it back in. Then it peeked through again, and got tucked back in. Sensei was like an unmanageable child; he must have enjoyed making the mistress do that.
Sensei didn’t marry until the age of 28, and until then he was a virgin. Even if he were like today’s youth, he must’ve led a very diligent and clever life. However, growing older he liked to be more of the happy-go-lucky type, telling lots of anecdotes.
He did many eccentric things, like turning over the paper lanterns of police that came arrest the drunkards, stopping trains, paying with railway tickets for the alcohol when he didn’t have enough money… etc. People saw him as an eccentric person.
Tying up a pregnant woman like in the famous work of Mr. Yoshitoshi Tsukioka and taking photos; tying up a fully nude woman out in the snow to sketch her and pushing it to the point of her fainting… Simply speaking, these are anecdotes that society would frown upon. However, to me, it says a lot about Seiu’s great ability to take action, and his passion in the pursuit of his truth.
There are no evil spirits if there is no ill will. Not to mention, not caring about the views of mainstream society and of rising above caring what reputation he might get. Walking his own path at full speed – born and raised in Edo.
I met sensei also at another meeting for SM-enthusiasts and had the privilege to sit by him. I had been to sessions like this before where he would tie up the female model, but this one left a strong impression on me.
Seme-e was a region of his interests; he had started as a genre painter, and he was among the best. From a young age, he had drawn clippings and billboards for plays. As an artist, he had even painted billboards for kabuki, rakugo, shingeki, and public corporations, so he knew many different people, and nobody would badmouth him. Even though he was considered a master painter, he had little to no arrogance to him. On the contrary, he found it troublesome for people to call him that. That was the kind of person he was.
When I came to Tokyo in 1954, I had no time for an idle life and started working for Amatoria-sha as an editor for Amatoria (Uramado was after this). It was around that time, that the writers hired by the company were invited to a temple, Ryousenji in Izu. The following is what happened on the bus-trip there. We called the trip ‘Amatoria festival’ and had it written on a red banner with white letters and put it at the back of the bus. Sensei sat right in the back seats and kept drinking happily, and as you know, the more you drink the more you need to pee. As we couldn’t stop the bus until arrival, sensei was a bit troubled. And I happened to witness, as he pretended as nothing was happening and urinated into his cup of beer. He put the cup to his mouth. When they filled his glass, he continued drinking and when nature called, he emptied his bladder in it. On top of it, the person next to him ended up drinking this urine and beer mixture as well. During this time, everybody was engaged in spirited discussion. There were jokes and puns coming one after the other. Sensei was smiling broadly with his round baby-like face, and his eyes sunk into his wrinkles. His eyes were kind and beautiful.

Sensei was without doubt happy at this period in time, and at times when he was really happy, he smiled so broadly he slobbered. After becoming an editor for Uramado, I came to meet sensei often. I would also join him for drinks, often at aforementioned Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi.
When Seiu-sensei passed away [January 1961], I proposed to Mr. Takahashi Tetsu that we hold a memorial for sensei Seiu, and now that he also has passed away [1971], I don’t know what will become of these memorials. It’s a bit lonely.
Next, I will talk to Mr. Dan Oniroku as well and perhaps attempt to organise a memorial for sensei. It was cold on the day of the funeral. Sensei didn’t like grandiose gestures, so the publishing company sent modest, but beautiful flowers with that in mind.
At the funeral, I remember seeing master 長老今輔 and master 金馬師匠 from the rakugo [storytelling] world. Also, among magazine related people were, in addition to the editor from Naigai Times, also Mr. Ueda Seishiro, as well as other publishers from different parts of Japan.
From Amatoria-sha there was me, the chief editor for Manhunt magazine [マンハント, published 1958–1964], as well as Mr. Nakata Masahisa. As for other editors and ones that are still working with SM-magazines right now, I can’t remember any. While Mr. Takahashi Tetsu and Mr. Higashi Kikitomo and other attendees were seeing sensei off, I endured the sadness and helped carry sensei’s coffin down the alley.
Ah, a great man has fallen, without much resistance in the world.

Itoh Seiu-sensei passed away in 28 January 1961, at the age of 81. Just a couple of days before a new issue of Uramado was sold in bookstores.
In that issue, there is a featured story by the newcomer SM-author Hanamaki Kyouta’s called “Literary Club Member Y – An Illustrated Story ”. This same Hanamaki Kyouta a pseudonym for Mr. Dan Oniroku – one of his first publications in a magazine. It’s funny that at the same time a great man falls, Mr. Dan Oniroku takes his first steps.
To close, I’ll say one more thing regarding sensei. Mr. Takahashi Tetsu wrote this about sensei’s multi-volume work The History of customs of old Edo: “I will forever be thankful and looking up to Naito Shizuka and Nozawa Seiza [pseudonyms Itoh used in his youth] and remember how they became, in the Taisho era [1912–1926], Seiu Itoh.”
Although sensei’s work stopped, there have been people wanting to know more about the person and artist Itoh Seiu – so how about a get-together? The 28th of January is the anniversary of the old man’s death. That is a time of the year when it’s quite cold outside, so I propose instead his birthday, the 3rd of March, during the peach festival. Let’s get together regardless of the weather, be it sunny or rain. Let’s indulge in his art, have a ghost festival and drink in his honour. If we do that, I’m sure he’ll be very happy about it. Well, please let me hear your opinions. Spring and lanterns are still far away.

If you have opinions about the Seiu memorial, please reach out to Mr. Minomura Kou. The late Mr. Takahashi Tetsu’s quotation was taken from the book『江戸と東京 風俗野史』(有光書房, 1971).

*************

Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin (1989)

bild 1-2

Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin

 At a recent workshop with Naka Akira in Copenhagen, he brought as a present to each of the participants a piece of paper with his autograph and a traditional Japanese ”hanko” name-seal. I am not really a collector of autographs, but the piece of paper made me think of the text below, that I commissioned Shiba to translate for me already a year ago or so, but have not shared on the blog yet.

The context of the following short text is this:

As Kinbiken was developing, they started to release also a printed ”magazine” called Kinbiken Tsushin [”Kinbiken Communications”] with texts and photos by the people in the group, but also from friends. I have in my collection an almost complete set 1989–1999 (I am still hunting for example for issue 16, which contains the letter from the model ”Aki”, that plays an important role for Vincent Guilberts movie The Peonys Whisper – see here).

After the premiere issue, the second issue opens with the following congratulatory letter from Minomura Kou to Nureki Chimuo, where Minomura also draws a historical line from his own work, and his mentor Itoh Seiu.

*******

Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin

Congratulations on the first issue! The card enclosed is a handmade business card [名刺] of my former teacher [恩師] Itoh Seiu. The card was sent to me together with some congratulating words by Sensei when I made a special newsmagazine which was named KK Tsuushin for rope-enthusiasts while I was working for Kitan Club. Later, when I was working hard on Uramado after moving to Tokyo, I had Sensei’s business card present as an amulet. I think of it as an amulet for those working in the field. It’s weird, but through it bad things can get better when you are in trouble. You might not be able to believe it, but I see it as an amulet which has a mysterious spiritual strength when it comes to this field. So, I’m sending it to you, my brother who is standing in the front line of the field in these modern times. The business card is not the original, though. I’m sending you a copy. I can’t give you the original now because I am in the running for a literature award (to which I entered a manuscript which involves SM), and I can’t let go of the amulet until I find out the result. I will give the original to you, my brother, as soon as the result comes out. So, please forgive me sending you the copy. Anyway, this is just a quick note to congratulate. Sorry for the hasty writing. Please edit the text as it suits you and publish it if you wish. Thank you.

Minomura Kou

**********

Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

 

 

Naka Akira & Hourai Kasumi & Sugiura Norio: Itoh Seiu edition (2017)

 

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Naka Akira & Hourai Kasumi & Sugiura Norio: Itoh Seiu edition (2017)

極私的緊縛野史 蓬莱かすみ 第二弾 (伊藤晴雨編)

This is the second photo-project released by Sugiura, with Naka tying Hourai Kasumi.

This time, they have taken special inspiration from Itoh Seiu.

See my post about the first one here.

A B5-size booklet with fantastic photographs, and a 95 minutes DVD. You can see a short clip on Sugiura’s website here: http://www.sugiuranorio.tv/top/products/detail.php?product_id=1814

This is VERY powerful material, a meeting between kinbaku-masters, seeking beauty in suffering, honouring the late Itoh.

This is a limited edition publication. I was happy to get it directly from Hourai Kasumi during her workshop in Paris this Spring with her signature on the cover.

Itoh Keijirō: ”A selection of representative seme scenes that appear in novels” (1953)

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Itoh Keijirō: 小説に現れた責の代表作選

(”A selection of representative seme scenes that appear in novels”) (Suikōdo 粹古堂1953)

I have always been fascinated by the poetic and fantasy aspects of Kinbaku, and recently obtained a book that opened a door onto some of the Edo-era literature that may well have inspired some of the pioneers in the development of Kinbaku. The book was written by a man named Itoh Keijirō. He is not a relative of Seiu, despite having the same last name, yet he and Seiu were very closely connected.

I had previously seen the following statement by Seiu (in a preface to a book with his photos [LINK]):

”It would seem that I’ve felt beautiful feelings looking at scenes of women in torment since June of 1891, when, as a ten-year-old boy, I listened to the Chiyohime snow-torment stories my mother told me. I imagined them vividly, and I now realize that I continued to fantasize about scenes of women’s torment every time it snowed. I would say that these things are a great joy for me.”

So you can imagine that it was very interesting for me to find a reference to Chiyohime in this new-to-me book (See Text #4 below). I am very curious about such literary stories of ”torment,” and how they have influenced our imagination when doing Kinbaku.

I owe this post to a friend in Tokyo, Alice Liddell, who not only brought this book to my attention but also helped me obtain a copy and did some translation of it. Thank you, Alice! She explains that Itoh Keijirō  (伊藤敬次郎, 1884–1965) was the real name of Itoh Chikusui (伊藤竹酔), the publisher of many of Itoh Seiu’s works released by his publishing house Suikōdo. Under a different company name (Chikusui Shobo), he also published works by important figures in the ”Ero Guro”-movement of the 1920s and 30s, including works on sexual perversion. He was jailed at least once for publishing improper material, and seems to have been traumatized by the experience, because after that he chose to avoid publishing illegal material. He is mentioned in Nureki Chimuo’s book Nihon Kinbaku Shashin-shi [LINK], for having sold a very large collection of photographs (taken at a satsuei-kai, or private meetings organized for the purpose of taking photographs) to Nureki and Minomura Kou, which were later published in Uramado magazine. He is also mentioned in Nureki’s bunko book, Kitan Kurabu to Sono Shuhen [LINK]. Nureki donated many of these photographs to the SM Library in Tokyo, which held a small exhibition of them in 2009 [LINK].

Here follows a summary of Itoh Keijirō’s foreword in the book, translated for us into English:

”In the early years of the Showa period, when [novelist and playwright] Tamura Nishio was running a restaurant in the Kanda area, there was a gathering one day, which I attended. It was there that I first met Seiu Sensei, and perhaps we hit it off, because I later published [Itoh Seiu’s books] 美人乱舞 (Bijin Ranmai) and  女三十六景  (Josanjū roku kei) and other of his works. After that, because of the war, I was not in contact with him for a long period, but recently I came to publish some more of his works, and as a result, everyone now seems to think of me a publisher of seme material. Subsequently, many people asked me to collect seme scenes from literature. Starting two or three years ago, without telling anyone, I collected various novels together, and woke early in the morning to read before work. I had to read the works from start to finish, which is no simple task when you are talking about old literature. I was incredibly happy when I was finally able to get a copy of 千代嚢媛七変化物語 (Chiyō-hime shichihengen monogatari) which I had searched for unsuccessfully for many years. This anthology of mine contains excerpts mostly from Edo-era novels from the Bunka years [January 1804 to April 1818], but when I had a little extra time, I extended my effort to include works of later times as well. In my research, I relied heavily on the E-iri bunko絵入文庫 [illustrated anthology series] published in Taisho 6 (1924). Some of the illustrations I’ve used are from different years, but I added them for reference.”

The book has printed inside 非買品 (not for sale), meaning it was not offered for sale as a commercial product. Perhaps the author only shared copies with interested friends? Or wished to avoid problems with the authorities?

To conclude this post, I share basic information for the thirteen texts and the eight illustrations chosen by the author, Itoh Keijirō. In general, he only states the book title and the author’s name, and sometimes the illustrator. In most cases, he did not provide more bibliographical information – all this has been added by Alice Liddell.

*

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Text #1: 優雲華物語, Udonge Monogatari, ”Tale of the Three-Thousand Year Flower” (1804), translated into English 1986 by Donald M. Richardson

Summary of scene described in the text: On Kurokami-yama (Black Hair Mountain), a female demon kills a pregnant woman and steals the unborn baby from her womb.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

Illustrator: 喜多武清 (Kita Busei, late Edo period painter, 1776–1858)

Description of illustration:

Two figures, a man and a woman (demon), near the body of a woman who has been stabbed with a sword and had her belly cut open.

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Text #2: 椿説弓張月, Chinsetsu yumi hari zuki (1807–11), ”The Crescent Moon”. This novel was adapted for the ”new” Kabuki as Chinzei Yumiharizuki by Mishima Yukio, and first performed in 1969. There are ukiyo-e prints based on this story, including versions by Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Summary of scene described in the text: The character Butota is tortured and killed with bamboo needles by Princess Shiranui, or a demon who has occupied her body.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

Illustrator: 葛飾 北斎 (Katsushika Hokusai, 1760–1849)

Description of illustration: A bleeding figure seated and tied to a post, being beaten by three women while four other women watch. The heads of two men are on a table in front of the watching women.

Text#3: 桜姫全伝曙草紙 , Sakura-hime zenden akebono sōshi (1805),”Complete Tales of the Cherry Blossom Princess: The Akebono Books”

Summary of scene described in the text: Sakura-hime (Cherry Blossom Princess) is killed and her body is taken away to a place called Toribeya. There, her corpse is cut open by a man named Seigen. (This story has been the basis for kabuki plays.)

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

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Text #4: 千代嚢媛七変化物語, Chiyonōhime shichihenge monogatari (1809), ”Tales of Princess Chiyo”

Several different scenes are described, including one involving torture by fire and another in which someone is burned to death. This seems to be a revenge story involving the Satomi family.

Author: 振鷺亭 (Shinrotei, real name 猪狩貞居, Ikari Teikyo, date of birth unknown, died 1815)

Illustrator: 蹄斎北馬 Teisai Hokuba (Edo period illustrator, 1777–1844.)

Two illustrations: The first one is hard to see what is happening – possibly a man raping a woman? The second one: A woman tied up inside a temple, with a rope attached to a stone post. A man stands over her with two swords. Nearby, a man, perhaps her servant, is tied up with rope around his neck attached to a stone post.

Text #5: 浮牡丹全伝 Ukibotan zenden, ”Tales of the Floating Peony” (1809)

Summary of scene described in the text: A woman is starved by being denied food. This seme gets a note by Itoh Keijirō indicating that it is okite-seme 掟て責 , a legally sanctioned punishment.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyoe printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

Text #6: 本朝酔菩提, Honchō suibotai (1809)

Summary of scene described in the text: The sisters Kurenai and Midori are tortured by a bad woman.

Author: 山東京博 (Santō Kyōden, late Edo novelist and ukiyo-e printmaker, 1761–1816)

No illustration.

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Text #7: 長柄長者黄鳥墳, Nagarachōjya uguisuzuka

Summary of scene described in the text: A man named named Kanpudaijin (?) kills a woman named Umegaeda (?).

Author: 栗杖亭 鬼卵 (Ritsujotei Kiran, 1744–1823)

Illustrator one: 石田玉山 Ishida Gyousan.

Illustrator two: 大蘓芳年Taiso Yoshitoshi.

Two illustrations:

The first, by Ishida, shows a woman held roughly by the hair by a man as a woman with a pipe watches on.

The second, by Yoshitoshi, shows a woman pinned down by a man with a knife at her throat.

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Text #8: 絲桜春蝶奇談, Itozakura shūnchō kien (1809?)

Summary of scene described in the text: A character is captured and tortured by being bound and suspended.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767-1848)

Illustrator: 歌川 豊清 (Utagawa Toyokiyo, 1799–1820)

Description of illustration: A woman bound and suspended from a pine tree. Inside the house, a man fights with four other men.

Text #9: 血血郷談 , Beibei Kyōdan, ”Talk in Rural Dialect” (1813)

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

Summary of scene described in the text: A rape scene.

No illustration.

Text #10: 南総里見八犬伝, Minami Sōrimi Hakken-den, ”The Legend of the Eight Dog Samurai” (1814–1842) The tragic romance of a princess and the adventure of eight heroic samurai. Probably the most famous novel of the late Edo period.

Summary of scene described in the text: An adulteress is tortured.

Author: 曲亭 馬琴(Kyokutei Bakin, real name Takizawa Okikuni, 1767–1848)

No illustration.

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Text #11: 片輪車, Katawa-guruma, ”The Broken Wheel”

Summary of scene described in the text: A jealous woman tortures another woman by starving her and denying her food.

Author: 洛陽山人 Rakuyo ? (At the end of this section, Chikusui explains that he found this story in a story-book published in Meiji 22 (1889) but he could not establish who the author was.)

Illustrator: 梅蝶楼国(貞) = 歌川 国貞 (Utagawa Kunisada, 1823–1880 or 三代豊国 third Toyokuni)

Description of illustration: A starving woman is placed tied up in front of food she cannot eat.

Text #12: 山椒大夫, Sanshō Dayū, ”Sansho the Bailiff” (1915). A historical novel set in the Heian period. It follows two aristocratic children who are sold into slavery after their father, a virtuous governor, is banished and their mother sold to a brothel.

Summary of scene described in the text: Slaves are branded with an iron.

Author: 森鴎外 (Mori Ōgai, 1862–1922)

No illustration.

Text #13: 風流線 , Furyusen (?), ”Elegant Line”(?), (1902?)

Author: 泉鏡花 (Izumi Kyōka, 1873–1939)

Summary of scene described in the text: Someone is put into a prison room in the bottom of a place called the Floating Castle.

No illustration.

Itoh Seiu: ”Fifteen Ways To Tie a Woman’s Body” (1953)

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Itoh Seiu: ”Fifteen Ways To Tie a Woman’s Body”, in Fuzoku soshi (風俗草紙), September 1953

Itoh was a prolific writer. Making private experiments with torment or ”seme” already in the 1910s, he started publishing texts on this topic in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I have posted earlier on the blog for example about a book from 1930 that contains both photos by Itoh, and a rather long text about seme (still untranslated, see: http://tinyurl.com/jd3fowy).

The magazine Fuzoku soshi (風俗草紙) existed only for two years (offering something like seventeen issues), and featured contributions among others by Itoh Seiu, Ueda Seishiro and Minomura Kou.

I find Itohs text and drawings in this issue from September 1953 especially interesting, as it connects his early experiments with the post-war expansion of Kinbaku. It also gives an indication about Itohs views on earlier, non-erotic forms of rope used for capture, transport and torture of criminals.

Please note that the text was written for publication in an erotic magazine, geared toward the pleasure and phantasies of the reader. Be advised that many of the things mentioned are quite dangerous, and do not treat it as a tutorial for Kinbaku.

The translation from Japanese to English is by Nana (London), commissioned and edited by Bergborg.

This is a non-profit endeavour. You are invited to support Kinbaku Books with a small donation through PayPal to: bergamott@live.se

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Fifteen Ways To Tie a Woman’s Body

By Seiu Itoh

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This is a precious article by a great painter who devoted his whole life to researching torment [責め, seme], based on his own experiences.

 Exclusive to our magazine!

*

When tying up a woman, there is surely some further purpose for it, more than just simply taking her freedom.

I assume that everyone would agree that the primary purpose of tying someone is to restrict them. In addition to this, you may want to achieve other things, like the extraction of a confession, the enjoyment of looking at their face full of pain by harming a part of their body, a disciplinary punishment – or some other purpose when specifically dealing with a woman’s body.

The martial artists [武術家, bujutsuka] in the old days invented ways to use rope for capturing an enemy alive and for tying men who surrendered in battle. As a part of ninja methods [忍術, ninjutsu], how to tie a person and the way to place rope were dependent on the person’s class, official rank and status. There were different styles, with each style having a different way to tie. At first it was just a method to remove a person’s freedom, but many styles and ‘Ryu’ cropped up later.

However, these schools were mainly for tying men. Tying women came second – while ways to tie women were established, these made up only a very small proportion of the entirety of possible styles. Seeing this, I have no doubt that there were only a small number of female criminals compared to the large numbers of male ones. It must have been rare to see a murder or a robbery committed by a woman in the pre-Restoration days [= before 1867], unlike in the post-war period.

Women have a troublingly tender spot: the breasts. There is a risk that putting rope on the chest or tightly binding the chest might lead to death, so tying the breasts would have been avoided for the ordinary (?) woman whose guilt was likely still uncertain. When tying a woman, we avoid the breasts. It’s understandable that we have seen only a few methods for tying women, as they had to be developed specifically for the small number of female criminals at the time. [The question-mark is in the original text.]

There was an illustration of a girl whose breasts were tied with a cord and suspended from a beam in a bondage magazine (?) of the current style [被縛雑誌, hibaku zasshi], accompanied by a composition claiming to be ‘a real story’. But this is complete rubbish, as it would be impossible to do things like that. [The question-mark is in the original text.]

I am going to describe how to tie up a woman, something I have learnt from my past experience, in the order in which I recall it.

There is no particular style like Houen Ryu, something-Ryu. If I must name it, I would say Seiu Ryu.

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  1. How to do Hayanawa [= fast rope]

Quickly bring both hands to the back. Tie both thumbs with a thin but strong cord, like the string of a Shamisen, as it will dig into her thumbs. Bring the leftover string to her throat, then tie her pinky fingers tightly so that the string digs into them. Or tie her wrists instead of the pinky fingers.

The thumbs will lose their feeling, and the tips of the fingers will turn purple and lose sensation.

However, it’s not safe to use this method. When using it for rope bondage play [hibaku no yuugi, 被縛の遊戯] over a long period, there is a risk it would lead to an injury such as necrosis in the fingers. Do not use it for over an hour.

It’s important to control the strength of this tie as it’s just for immobilising a woman’s hands. If this method is used for a long time, the string will dig into her flesh and become inescapable, making injury to the fingers unavoidable. This method was also used by the unofficial policemen, or Okappiki, of the Tokugawa period [1603–1868].

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  1. Guruguru Maki [= wrapping around and around]

This has to be done quickly. In reality, one’s physical strength is important when tying a woman who is trying to run away. You must not take pity on the woman when putting rope on her. Tie her up roughly without considering the pain she is receiving, remembering that the skin’s sensitivity of some women is low compared the typical man’s. She could cry – this might often interfere with your focus, but it’s unnecessary to take her tears into consideration and it is no reason to go easy on her. When you are tying a woman, if you don’t divest yourself of your humanity, you can not use full strength, and you can not truly tie her – you must keep thinking like that.

This is however not the case if both parties conduct this activity as play. But people like me, who make personal research about bondage (?), must abstain from sympathy. For me, there is no other way than tying her using my strength to the limit. [The question-mark is in the original text.]

There are no other mysteries of this form apart from wrapping the rope around and around, tying both wrists rapidly. As a result, there isn’t really any more to learning the tie than just to practice until you fully acquire the skill.

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  1. Hayanawa [= fast rope]

First of all, the primary focus should be tying up both wrists. In this case, twisting both arms up quickly is a point which requires some tact.

After tying up both wrists, bring the remaining rope from the woman’s upper arms around her back and repeat it a couple of times, then tie a knot with all your strength. Her breasts will quickly be firmly tied, and the rope will bite into her flesh. Without a pause, take aim at the abdomen next; swiftly bring rope around it a couple of times and attach it to the wrists. There’s always an impending risk that she might get away. Except when it’s bondage play [yuugi, 遊戯], some resistance by the woman you’re tying should be expected, especially if it’s a serious situation. Special care must be taken when capturing a female criminal. You must avoid putting rope across the breasts, even if you forgo being careful. Needless to say, the woman’s wrists of course should be on her back.

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  1. Kataashi Kake [= hooking one leg]

At first, hold the woman down and make her lie face down. Twist the right arm towards the back (you’d usually deal with the right arm first), put rope around the wrist, then quickly take it down to the left ankle. It’s necessary that ‘the snake’s mouth’ of the rope (see the illustration) is pulled out near the wrist. The woman’s body will become a Z-shape when you bring the rope from the ankle to the loop by the wrist, then tighten it. Wrap one of her legs with the excess rope, or use another rope and bring it from her leg to the crotch, then wrap it strongly above the groin. It’s more effective if a new, thin rope is used if possible. Once you finish doing this, use your full strength to twist and tie the leg and the crotch.

Towards the end, you should always reel in the rope sequentially, then tighten the rope up from time to time as you tie. There won’t be enough rope left if the crotch part is tied loosely so it’s better to bind as tight as possible, considering that you’ll be bringing the rope to her neck later on.

After placing this rope on her neck and tying the left arm up, you can hold the woman’s right leg and torment her by dragging her body around. This will instantly bring a good result.

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  1. Same as…

There is a method which can be done in the opposite manner to the one mentioned above; placing a pole between the knees and crotch in order to torment a woman after tying her up. In addition to tormenting her, the woman’s body can be suspended from it, if this amuses you.

However, there are no practitioners using this technique at present. It was probably one of the methods for torturing suspects used by Okappiki at police stations in the pre-Restoration days [= before 1867]. When a criminal didn’t confess, they were confined with Hoda for any number of days. Hoda means fetters.

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  1. Irekubi [= neck putting]

I have created a fictitious name, which will suffice for this explanation.

Place her right wrist behind her bended knee, then tie it with rope tightly, placing the excess rope around her neck. Bring the rope to her back, tie her left wrist as it’s brought to her back, bring the rope end around her waist and tie up there. This is to keep the woman’s neck leaning towards the left. The pain this position causes becomes intense from the rope as the wrist gets caught on in the crotch area. The shoulders start to hurt after an hour.

If weight is added to the crotch, the pain on the wrist will reach the upper right arm and the shoulder begins to hurt. The aim of torture shall easily be achieved if you place a stick in the left elbow and twist it, which will undoubtedly cause the woman to scream in agony.

Furthermore, to add harsher torment, bind the body more tightly by putting more rope on, but this is said to cause fainting in some cases.

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  1. A type of Ebi Zeme [= shrimp torture]

This is almost the same tying method as was used in torture chambers during the Edo period.

Make a woman sit cross-legged, tie her legs in a couple of places, run rope from her shoulder to her crotch and pull it tight, leaving the neck as close to the legs as possible. Her back should form a curve, bent like a shrimp.

It is said that Ebi Zeme was named as it is because the colour of the body changes and turns red. It is a matter of life or death when the colour of the body then changes to white after having become red; then it must be untied, as failure to do so is fatal. This writer has never conducted an experiment on this matter so cannot comment from personal experience.

Regardless, this method of torment includes inclining the woman’s body forward and exposing a certain part of her, so it is difficult to conduct such an experiment without being on intimate terms with the woman.

If this test were to be done for research purposes, it is suggested that this position should be maintained for no longer than ten minutes. As a result of an experiment conducted by this writer, a woman was physically disabled for a couple of days after the experiment finished.

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  1. Bou Shibari [= pole tying]

This is a good practice tie, as it shouldn’t cause any harm. This torment can also be bearable for a long time, to a certain extent.

When using this method in a playful manner [yuugiteki, 遊戯的], the time can be extended longer and the mosquito torture can be done to a woman if it’s summer.

This can be a most effective and harmless tie, know to be used for example on a homosexual woman by her jealous female partner, because it won’t leave a scar even if she’s tortured to the edge of breaking the skin. Therefore, this torment method is widely and deeply applicable.

When using this method, you could throw a woman into the garden and make her shiver with cold if it’s winter, give her the mosquito torture if it’s summer (as mentioned above), or torment her with smoke. When using this pole tying method, all sorts of torment methods can be thought up to follow. Its applications are limitless.

The method for this tie depends on personal preference, but historically, the most common way is to open a person’s arms straight and place a pole along the arms over the back. The pole is then tied to the arms in a couple of places with short ropes. You can then tie the woman’s ankles and throw her down, or attach her to a tree.

It is said that this tie was a type of arrest which was usually used on Noarashi [= poachers and rustlers, persons who steal crops from a farm].

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  1. Mata Nozoki [= peeping through the crotch]

This is similar to a variety of a method called Hyoutan Zeme [= gourd torture], which is said to have been used at a government office at the Sado gold mine.

This is an unbearable tie unless the person has a great deal of endurance. At first, bring both hands to the back and tie them up, then bring the rope end to the shoulder and tie up in the same way as in the Ebi Zeme. You should then bring the rope through between the thighs. Pull it tightly until the woman’s head meets her own anus. Bring the rope to the back and attach it to the wrists, then throw the rope over a beam and lift her up. It is both ridiculously laborious and quite dangerous, so it’s a bit tricky to try out this tie. There is a legend that Dakki no Ohyaku [”Ohyaku the villainess”] was tortured with this tie twice, but even such a wicked woman couldn’t bear it.

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  1. Sagi [= Heron]

I’ve made up my own name for this one, as its shape is similar to a heron.

Start by tying a woman’s hands behind the back as usual. It is important to fixate the wrists as high as possible. Extend this rope end, bend either the right or left ankle towards her front and wrap the rope in a spiral around her leg. Use the remaining rope to tie a pole to the leg the woman’s standing on, putting the pole between both arms as in the illustration.

The woman’s body makes a ┓-shape as it is folded to the front, making it look similar to a shape of a heron.

To inflict more pain on her, you can put things like a heavy stone on her back for some time. It is said that the person would faint if this continues for a long period of time. However, this writer hasn’t yet tested it to that point.

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  1. Ryoute Age [= arms up]

This is also a name I’ve made up, of course. Tie both the right and left wrists while holding them up and prevent the hands slipping down by putting a pole by the wrists to hold her up. That’s all you need to do for the tie, but other people might take turns in tickling the woman’s armpits. She will writhe in agony as the pain increases, so you might want to tie both legs to a log to deprive her legs of their freedom.

This method is used when you want to cause the greatest pain without damaging the body. It is said that a person will make a confession as their consciousness clouds after this torture continues without allowing them sleep or rest. This tie can be used for a ‘torture’ called Utsutsu Zeme [severe sleep deprivation] later on.

The tie is quite simple, but the torture requires time and patience.

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  1. Mata Biraki [= crotch opening]

First place both hands behind the back and tie them up, then spread both legs as wide as possible and tie the ankles to a pole. Then tie the rest of the legs to it with the excess rope.

This can be used for wicked play if it is done with a woman lying down, but these details shall not be mentioned here.

It must be noted that it is a blasphemy to the art of bondage if you demand poses which are beyond the limit of range of motion for the human body, just because you’re too eager to see a change in a woman’s body. Once you’ve learned the tie, try it with your partner, and learn the limits of their body.

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  1. Kukuri Zaru [= bound monkey]

This is another for which I’ve coined a name, referring to the shape it produces. This tie is a bit tougher than it appears to be. You’re trying to create a shape like a monkey by bringing both wrists and ankles together, with the neck leaning downward.

If you use this tie for a suspension, the shape becomes what the title of this paragraph says. However, in reality, there is a risk that the wrists can be damaged if this is applied to a suspension without great care. Here I’d emphasise that this method should not be used on or by an inexperienced person.

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  1. Gyaku Tsurushi [= Inverted suspension]

This can rarely be done in reality, and even if it’s done, it can cause a life or death situation. As it’s so risky, this tie should be done only in very special cases.

It’s safer to use a Nuno Renjaku, especially when it’s for a photo shoot or for a film. Nuno Renjaku is made by wrapping a cloth around the waist many times, putting jute rope over it and making a loop, then attaching the main rope to it in order to suspend the body. This is also used in provincial theatres when they want to hang an actor in mid-air for short periods. It is a quite useful thing, but amateurs are quite often unable to do it properly. With this taken into account when you suspend a woman, you should first tie both legs. Then lay her body on her back on a board which is set up in a raised position (tie her hands behind the back before doing so). When you suddenly remove the board then the woman’s body will hang down.

This also looks easy, but it’s one of the most difficult things in bondage. A full understanding of this suspension can be gained only by practice or by in-person teaching from someone else.

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  1. Suspension

It’s impossible to suspend a woman with her hands behind the back like in all the illustrations for popular novels.

If you think the hem of a kimono flutters conveniently and the long sleeves of the kimono will move into an attractive shape, you are totally wrong. The shape of a woman suspended like this really doesn’t look good. As I mentioned before, there absolutely must not be rope placed on a woman’s breasts at all. As a result, the shape of the tie becomes bad, the legs hang down and the body will just keep spinning around.

Even if you tie rope to the Obi, the woman’s posture will become like a post, not a very attractive sight. To tie this, begin by tying both her hands as in the Takate Kote, then wrapping the waist with rope before hanging her from a beam. However, great care must be taken with this tie, and you must not forget that there is always a risk of injury.

***

– Translation by Nana (London), commissioned and edited by Bergborg // http://www.kinbakubooks.wordpress.com //

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Ueda Seishiro: Kinbaku Photo Senshu (1971)

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Ueda Seishiro: Kinbaku Photo Senshu (1971)

Ueda Seishiro was a (younger) friend of Itoh Seiu.

Ueda was responsible for the tying in a special issue of Yomikiri Romance in the summer of 1952, something Master ‘K’, in The Beauty of Kinbaku, calls this ”the first commercial publication completely dedicated to shibari/kinbaku photography (…) a groundbreaking event in SM publishing”. See my earlier post here: Yomikiri Romance

According to SMpedia, Ueda attended Itohs funeral in 1961.

In the early 1970s, Ueda published a series of photo-book anthologies called ”Kinbaku Photo Senshu” (緊縛フォト選集). In many of the photos, a table is tilted on the side or upside-down and put to good use. I also recognize some of the photos from another publication from the same time-period: Kinbaku-bi. See my earlier posts here: Kinbaku-bi

Here are some examples from three ”Kinbaku Photo Senshu”-books:

エロスの狂宴 (January 1971)

恍惚の美学 (March 1971)

薔薇聖女 (April 1971)

PS

Ueda was also responsible for the bondage in the movie ”Daydreams” (白日夢), directed by Tetsuji Takechi, based on a script by Tanizaki Yunichiro. Please note that there are four versions of ”Daydreams”, from 1964, 1981, 1987 and 2009, Ueda only did the bondage for the 1981-version. It is available (as are many other movies) with English subtitles here: http://japaneiga.free.fr/pinku.html

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Itoh Seiu: 黒縄記 (1951)

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Itoh Seiu: 黒縄記 (1951)

This artwork of a book comes intricately packaged in a cardboard box with a see-through window in front and a small peek-hole in the back. Once opened, the book has some blue silhouettes of bodies in bondage (these are reappearing on the last page). The back-cover is covered in silver with small pieces of gold. Mainly a text-book, it has a number of pages with illustrations (all protected by an additional page of rice-paper), and a section of photos. I especially appreciated seeing Itoh Seiu’s hands…