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Intricate patterns, erotic expression and a safe yet sexy form of play, here we shall have a quick look at the beautiful artform of Japanese rope bondage.

Sometimes called Shibari, which means “to tie” or it can be called Kinbaku, a more nuanced term meaning to tie someone using rope in pretty, intricate patterns as a form of sensual and artistic expression. It has its basis in Hojojutsu, a historical martial art of rope restraint, mostly used on criminals, however it has evolved to become a deeply sensual form of expression.

It is the relationship between the rigger (the person doing the tying) and the rope bottom (the person being tied). The person being tied up gives consent to be in different positions, with different patterns and in some cases even suspended.

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that it began to be practiced as an underground erotic pastime. By the 1950s, after WW2, it increased in popularity,often appearing in pulp magazines in both Japan and America.

Kinbaku can happen between two partners (the rigger and the rope bottom) multiple partners (usually more than one bottom) or even as an artistic event with an audience witnessing the bondage happen.

Riggers must have a good working knowledge of human anatomy to make sure they don’t accidentally tie the rope somewhere that might cause unnecessary pain or discomfort. They must be always aware and very engaged in their work as the comfort and safety of the rope bottom is literally in their hands. This is why alot of riggers take lessons and classes before working independently.

Rope Bottoms can be more passive though not completely so.They need to be able to tell the rigger how they are feeling, though some bottoms do find themselves approaching a zen like state as they are bound.

Kinbaku can be used as part of a BDSM scene,used with various toys and in different consensual scenarios but Kinbaku can also be an encounter all on its own with the practitioners finding stimulation from using the rope and the binding or being bound.

Kinbaku doesn’t use many knots, most of the patterns and bondage are achieved by wrapping techniques, so hemp rope is perfect for the play, though using silk or cotton rope is better if you are tying in the more intimate areas as they are easier to clean.

The natural fibers of hemp rope make it easier to grip making it far less likely that the rope will slip.

Traditional rope, or at least rope used here in the West, is about 8 meters long, three strands braided together and is between 4 and 6 inches thick and is very easy to take care of. 

Usually stored in a figure 8 knot to prevent tangling, it can be washed in this configuration as well. Just place it in a pillow case and wash it in the washing machine on the lowest temperature. Let the outside dry before unknotting it and letting the inside dry - this could take a few days. Washing a hemp rope too often can damage the fibres and make them brittle so it is good practice not getting the rope dirty when possible.

To make the rope soft and supple using Rope oil or even unscented baby oil along the entire length of the rope can keep your rope in good shape for longer.