Please Note: I began compiling this glossary in August 1999 in an effort to first gain understanding of the Shibari / Kinbaku world for myself and also share what I have learned to the west. At the time as far as I know beyond a handful of terms defined in a few other websites, this was the first attempt to provide a major glossary of Japanese Shibari / Kinbaku terms in the west. It has undergone several major revisions. As more and more have become interested in the Japanese Bondage world, and asking more and more questions, I began attempting to cite sources for these terms; and I continue to do so. So this glossary is constantly under continued revision. It is not meant to be the end all definitive authority; but like my entire website an effort to research, my attempt to simply provide some understanding to the interested reader.
I have learned along the way that what I thought were reliable sources turned out not to be so reliable.
My thanks to those who have helped me in this endeavor and have helped me correct errors along the way.
Many years ago when I first started to put together a glossary of terms for those who work with Japanese Rope Art, it was simply a practical guide for understanding. Then I saw my work being copied all over the internet and realized how important this project really is to the worldwide Rope Art community.
So in 2005 I took a fresh look at all of these terms, to see if I could not only update but also discover the etymology or origins of these terms and document it if I could. This proved to be a much more difficult task as there is a lot of mythology floating around the internet thanks to the commercial profiteers wishing to romanticize the Japanese Bondage world I suppose to make their product more attractive to sell.
Japanese words are written with a complex system of symbols called "kana" denoting certain phonetic sounds. This is a "Romanized" writing of Japanese words as they sound when spoken. To make things event more complicated there are several established systems for these "romanized" spellings, so there are often two or three different ways one will find these words spelled.
A word on western spelling of Japanese words. Remember that the Japanese language is a "character language". There is no exact way to transliterate those sounds. So don't get too hung up on how we in the west are spelling those sounds, it's not that important.
This is still a work in progress and as I attempt to source many of these terms, especially those associated with Japanese Rope. If you feel feel I have made a grave error, please contact me and give me any better information you may have.
Kanji for "Kata", which means form. Used in martial arts to refer to a basic form. This symbol will be placed next to tying forms.
agura shibari - a Japanese bondage form referring to being tied in a cross legged position with the body in an upright position.
aomuki shibari - face up suspension
arigato - thank you
asa - a "natural fiber" rope such as Jute, Hemp, Linen, Flax or Cotton.
asanawa - a
natural fiber rope used in Japanese Bondage.
bari - a term shortened from the word "shibari" (to weave or tie)
bakushi - A shorted more recent version of "Kinbakushi" meaning Rope Master
chikubi - nipple
chitsu - vagina
do-itashi mash-te - "you're welcome" (response to thank you). more accurately. "my pleasure, don't mention it" or "no, thank YOU, the pleasure was all mine"
dojo - place for practice or tournament (martial arts)
dorei - literally , "slave". "Dorei" a word in Japan borrowed Greek word to denote ancient eastern European slavery. Used mostly in the Japanese Fetish / SM world.
dorei no jotai - condition of being a slave
ebi - means "shrimp". the term ebi is used in what is called a shrimp tie or in ancient hojojutsu it was referred to as the "prawn" position. It was the 3rd step in approved torture techniques as per the Tokugaza rule in ancient Japan. The subject is bound in a cross-legged sitting position and their chest and head are folded over and bound to the legs. This became excruciating in time, creating a burning sensation in the spine radiating throughout the body.
ebizeme - the third Edo period torture technique, where the captive is bound in the ebi position (see ebi).
Edo Period - 1603 to 1867. Following the death of Hideyoshi in 1598, Tokugawa Leyasu, embarked upon a campaign to rule all of Japan. In 1600 Leyasu defeated Hideyori's followers in the battle of Sekigahara. In 1603 the Emperor appointed Leyasu Shogun and Leyasu set up his Tokagawa government in Edo, which is now known as Tokyo. His Tokagawa Shoguns ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1867. With the Russians and Commodore Perry in 1853 forcing the Tokugawa rulers to open up for international trade the EDo period came to and end with the Meiji restoration in 1868.
gyaku-ebi - a reverse shrimp tie. with subject in a takate kote chest tie who is then placed on her stomach and then her ankles are bound and pulled to her buttocks and secured at the back of the chest harness. Some call this the "Japanese Hog Tie".
gyaku-ebi tsuri - suspended in the face down Japanese Hog tie position.
gakko - school
gei - art of craft, artistic skill or technique
gei-ba - gay bar
geisha - artist, one skilled in the art of entertaining and pleasure
hai - yes
hashira ushirodaki - bondage to a pole / bamboo
hishigata - diamond shaped;
hishi refers to any diamond shaped body weave such as the karada.
Hojojutsu - The ancient Japanese martial art practiced among samurai using rope to capture and restrain prisoners. It is from these techniques that modern shibari / kinbaku-bi or the erotic or artistic forms of bondage evolved beginning at the end of the 19th century.
Hon Kikkou - Kikkou literally means tortoise. Hon Kikkou is a design style in fabric weaving. This form has been popularized by Japanese Rope Master Sikou Sima.
Sikou Sima at one time was a serious disciple of Ito and followed the work of Reiko Kita and Nureki very closely. This tie is of the older, more traditional, hojojutsu inspired, kikkou pattern, as done by Nureki many years ago and picked up by Sima. 7
See also "Kikkou" for more explanation.
Ishidaki - The 2nd of the Edo torture techniques, where the captive kneels on a corrogated surface and pressing stones are placed on his thighs.
Isu-jyo kohai - chair bondage
"Ito Seiyu (1882-1961) is arguably the most important figure in the history of Japanese bondage (shibari) and SM. Born during the last days of the Meiji Restoration, Ito, a painter, wood block print master, photographer and writer, provides the link between the ancient and the modern in Japan's fascination with sadomasochistic practices. As an artist he was extraordinary. As an inspiration to generations of Japan's greatest shibari masters he was unique." (source quoted: www.kikkou.com)
jo-osama - Japanese Mistresses dressed classic european fetish dress, such as latex, leather and PVC outfits . They are regarded as beautiful sexy goddess' who are paid well to dominate men and women in Japanese Mistress Bars.
jūjun / juujun - (adj-na,n) obedient; gentle; meek; submissive; docile10 "obedient or obedient one" and refers to one who is submissive.
Also written jūjun . See footnote 11 below
Technically it is an "adjectival noun" (or noun
adjunct) or simply a noun. An adjective that that sometimes acts as a
This is not a widely used term in Japan. When it is, it denotes a relationship role and is not appropriate for professional stage performers, m-jo, etc.
kana - Japanese Script (kanji = Chinese characters)
Kannuki – Japanese term used for the rope that comes under the arms from the back around the horizontal chest ropes and then to the back again. Literally the term refers to a "latch" with a gate that slides between to secure it so it will not open.
Our purpose is to
block the rope from slipping up over the shoulders. Some people in the
West use the
which is not a good term to use, as cinching denotes tightening down
lead to potential loss of circulation or nerve damage.
karada - Japanese word which simply means "body".
In the West this term has come to refers to a basic full torso diamond shaped body weave, sometimes called rope dress. In Japan this would be refered to as a "Hishi-nawa".
In recent years Westerners have erroneously referred to a full body "hishi" nawa as a "kikkou". Kikkou means tortoise and refers to the 6 sided shape or design on a tortoise shell. (See "kikkou" below)
kata-ashi tsuri - generally refers to a one-legged suspension
ki - center of spirit or soul (focus point in meditation) (chi in chinese)
kikkou - literally means tortoise. Kikkou is a design style in fabric weaving. This term has been used incorrectly in a number of places on the internet and in print to refer to a body weave tie sometimes called a karada. It is not. Up until a few years ago, I had not heard Kikkou being used for a Karada. The Kikkou design is a six sided shape found on the tortoise shell, which is recreated with rope on the body. It is not a simple diamond body weave as in a Karada.
The reason for this confusion, has been stated that the "Manga artists began to frequently draw the diamond pattern Kikkou for illustrations in cartoons, magazines and books with more frequency than the older hexagonal shape. The younger nawashi (like Mai Randa) began to teach this tie and call it a Kikkou in instructional videos and books. The two uses of the word Kikkou probably started sometime in the late 1980's or early 1990's. Up until then people like that sensei of sensei's, Nureki, were usually differentiating between the Kikkou (hexagonal) and Hishi (Diamond) patterned ties. This makes sense since BOTH patterns probably stem for much earlier hojoutso designs which Nureki (and others) researched carefully. Mai Randa (for one) began teaching the diamond (hishi) shaped tie and clearly calling it a Kikkou Shibari fairly early in the 90's in one of his earliest vids and also in his first (and best) 'how-to" book (published by Tsukasa) late in the 90's. This corresponds nicely w/the upsurge of manga illustrations in vids, books, etc.in the 80's and 90's." 7
kikkou.com - a website which began July 1996 from Japan orginally owned and produced by Toshia Sekine from Sibuya-ku, Tokyo, who then sold to "Chiba Sensei". It went offline for a few years in the late 90's, but is back online. It features the best known bondage tutorials from Japan, as taught by Japanese Bondage Masters Randa Mai and Sikou Sima.
kinbaku - (n, vs) (1) bind tightly; (2) (sexual) bondage 10 A historic Japanese term appropriated in the 1950's for the Japanese Art of biding tightly with rope. It denotes a form of erotic restraints using rope. 1
kinbaku-bi - This word was appropriated in the 1950's to describe the beauty and erotic aspects of rope bondage based on the ancient hojojutsu techniques of prisoner restraint. -bi (n, n-suf) beauty10 beautiful 1 kin
Japanese is an honorific language... the use of "-shi" would imply a place of honor in the use of this word, yet honor is not something the master or sensei demands or gives to self, that would be regarded as arrogant. The student uses terms like these when they feel the teacher or mentor has indeed taught them something and indeed is deserving of such respect, not the other way around. So a rope master or sensei would not call himself a kinbakushi, nawashi, or sensei, others would refer to him that way in response to having learned from his ways.1
See also: Bakushi
kiritsu - a command to stand up from seiza position
kohai - anyone with less experience than you.
komon means "advisor". 2
Kōmon - anus Notice the macron ( - ) over the vowel "o" in kōmon. That means that the vowel sound is made longer about 1.7 times the normal length.
It could also be written "koomon" or "koumon", however to make things somewhat confusing the romanji word "koumon" is also used to mean "School Gate" and is used in that context is some classic and anime movies. I would therefore recommend Westerners stick with "kōmon" for anus.
See footnote 11 below.
Kōmon sarashi shibari - Kōmon = "anus", sarssu = vb "to expose", sarshimono - "exposed criminal". A Japanese Bondage form invented and taught by the great Bakushi, Randa Mai. Which binds the subject kneeling in such a way as to spread the ass cheeks, exposing the anus.
konnichi wa - hello ( "moshi moshi" is greeting on telephone); also good afternoon. (ohayo is good morning)
kotori - to fly as "little bird". A generic term referring to any body harness basic to a rope suspension. The origin of the use of this term in Japanse Bondage is unknown.
kotsu - torture, the act of inflicting severe pain
kotobu ryo-tekubi - a Japanese basic form or the binding of the wrists and positioning behind the neck
kukuro - to tie up / to tie together /to bundle / to fasten / to hang (oneself)
m-jo (m-o in case of a male sub) - Literally "m" is short for "maso" or "masochistic" "Jo" is suffix literally meaning woman or girl or daughter.10 Westerners might also think of this role as a submissive or bottom.
This is perhaps the most widely accepted term in Japan today for the one captured in rope, however many stage performers are not in a releationship with the stage rigger; and would be offended being referred to as an "m-jo". They are most often professional actresses, dancers, or aerialists.
Many Japanese female rope captives think of themselves simply as "models".
matanawa - describes a crotch rope tied around the waist and down between the legs and buttocks. mata = thigh, groin and nawa=rope
Meiji Restoration - (1867 - 1912) When the emperor moved from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) a new capital was established and the emperor's powers were restored from the Tokugawa Bakufu to a new group of former samurai. Social classes disassembled. After a long period of isolationism, Japan grew to be an economic power with the west. The samurai were totally disenfranchised.
meijin - master in sense of a
momo - means "peach" and generally refers to a tie of the buttocks. "Momo Shibari" refers to a bondage tie with jujun in the kneeling position and the arms drawn between her legs and wrists bound to ankles.
-mi suffix used usually with female name to mean beautiful
model in contemporary shibari / kinbaku performance the rope bottom is generally referred to with the English term "model"
musubime - knot
musubu - to bind, to tie
Mutchiuchi - the first of the Edo torture techniques where the prisoner is whipped.
nai - no
nawa - rope also "tsuna"
nawa-aikido (1) - a term coined by Tatu to describe the way of
love and harmony through the rope bondage experience. It is
made up of the following Japanese terms:
nawashi / nawa-shi - nawa = rope 2 + -shi = teacher or master 2. So one who works with rope with some level of competence, a rope practitioner. Literally it is used and understood in Japan to refer to "a maker of rope". Like many words in the erotic bondage world, this word has been appropriated from common usage by the Kinbaku / Shibari practioners.
Japanese is an honorific language... the use of "-shi" would imply a place of honor in the use of this word, yet honor is not something the master or sensei demands or gives to self, that would be regarded as arrogant. The student uses terms like these when they feel the teacher or mentor has indeed taught them something and indeed is deserving of such respect, not the other way around. So a true rope master or sensei would not call himself a kinbakushi, nawashi, or sensei, others would refer to him that way in response to having learned from his ways.1
It is a term that came into use in the mid to late 20th century in the erotic bondage world.
According to the research of Master "K", Yukimura believes that the best guess for the origin of "nawashi" is that Minomura Kou coined it in Kitan Club in the 50's. 7
In more recent years the term has evolved into being applied specifically to a master of shibari who was trained in Japan and is a practicing rope professional in Japan.
nawagei - rope art
Nawa Do - A term coined by Tatu. Nawa means rope and Do means way, so Nawa Do literally means "the way of rope" and is Tatu's signature for his workshops and demos.
Nawa Dojo - A term coined by Tatu in line with martial arts schools. Nawa means rope and Dojo is a place to practice "the way". So a Nawa Dojo would mean a place to practice your rope skills.
nawa juujun - two Japanese words: "nawa" = rope and "juujun" - (adj-na,n) obedient; gentle; meek; submissive; docile10, Not used by the Japanese in Kinbaku / Shibari artists, but appropriated by the Fetish SM crowd; denoting one us is a rope submissive.
Technically "juujun is an "adjectival noun" (or
noun adjunct) or simply a noun. An adjective that that sometimes acts
as a noun.
nawa-no-ukiyo - 'floating rope world'
Nawa Sensei - One who is respected by others (students) as a teacher of the Japanese Rope.
nawakesho 9 - . A trendy modern word coined by Randa Mai, to refer to applying rope like a cosmetic art, made up of two Japanese words: nawa=rope and kesho=makeup.
nawasemeku - Torturous Rope. A term coined by Tatu to describe a style of Japanese Rope done is a torturous and sadistic manner.
nawatsuya - "tie me up tonight"
nawa semeku-do - The way of Torturous Pain through rope.
newaza - (n) literally a familiar term from Ju-jutsu or wrestling, denoting "floor grappling or pinning techniques.10
>>>Note: A few in the West have erroneously appropriated this term to denote "floor work"; the Japanese actually use the term "Yukawaza" (see below); however it appears most in Japan simply use the English terms "floor work".
on nashujin - mistress, in the sense of a female head (note: mekake - is mistress in sense of an extramarital partner)
oruganzumi - orgasm
rei - bow also "yu" means bow
ritsurei - standing bow
ryo-tekubi - refers to the binding of the wrists.
ryo-ashi tsuri - refers to being suspended face down using a chest harness (ushiro takate kote), and supports at the hips, ankles and sometimes thighs.-ryu - literally means "a flow". In martial arts it refers to a "style" or "school". Ryu's or schools are developed from a long history of study and performance. It takes many years to develp these skills, black belts, -7th Dan, etc etc... So one does not establish their own ryu or school until they have been someone's student for 30 or 40 years; and carry on a certain style or flow. To do so would be considered insulting to one's teacher.
>>>Note: If you ever consider starting a "shibari group" in the west, don't insultt Japanese people and their culture or your former teachers (if you had any) by calling it a ryu. Just call it a rope group of some sort.
sakasa tsuri - a vertical suspension with the feet up and head down, with the suspension point being from ankles and / or waist.
sakuranbu - Japanese for cherry. Used by some in Japanese Rope to refer to "tying up the cherry" (a euphemism for tying up the female bottom in such a way that emphasizes the cherry/ pussy / vagina area). One of the basic ties of the 1st layer. The origin of this term is a European Website that fabricated it. There is no actual usage of the term in Japan releated to kinbaku / shibari.
Samurai (aka "bushi") were the military class. They first emerged during the Heian Period (794-1185). With the Edo period which ushered in 250 years of peace, the importance of Samurai declined. They used all kids of weapons, spears, bows and arrows, guns, but were most famous and feared for their ability with the sword. They lived by a high ethical code known as "bushido", which means "the way of the warrior". Most were influenced by Confucius philosophy. The code was focused on loyalty to one's master, respect, and discipline. In 1868 the samurai class was formerly abolished when the Edo feudalistic society ended.
suffix to a name denoting Mr. Mrs. Ms., an indication of respect.
Also used as a general informal term of friendship of others.
santen tsuri - a rope suspension from the takate kote position with the subject's legs bound up underneath the torso as if she were sitting in a chair.
sayonara - good bye (also "bai bai")
seiza - correct sitting position. Kneeling, eyes closed, reflective of the lesson about to begin, or of the lesson just received.
sempai - elder student, one just under the sensei
sensei - teacher. a respectful term used of instructors. A teacher never uses the term of him/herself. To require others to use it, is seen as audacious and possessing inordinate self pride. The student only uses this term when they feel it is right to do so, as a term of respect and for having been taught something.
shashin - photograph
shiatsu - Japanese massage using finger pressure.
(v1, vt) to bind (tie) up. An ancient term appropriated in modern
times to apply to the art of erotic bondage / kinbaku.10
shibarikomu - to bind together
shibaritai - A Rope Artist expressing the love of tying, specifically directed at a nawa jujun (rope submissive) or m-jo (rope model)
shibaritsukeru - to tie
shibaru - to tie or to bind as in fabric weaving. This term is where the word shibari was developed.
shibarimasu - To bind or tie / untie someone
shibaraaretai - A rope submissive expressing the desire and love of being restrained. "I want to be tied up"
shibatte - verb for "tie me"
shichiseki - July 7th Festival of the Weaver, celebrated in concert with the Art of Shibori (Fabric Weaving). Note: In the late 1990s / early 2000s there was much confusion in the west concerning this term. A popular Japanese website, kikkou.com, used this term in the heading of it's web pages. Some in the West automatically assumed that "Shichiseki" meant was the term for "Japanese Bondage". One westerner even opened a website with that name. Fortunately we were able to research and discover the actual meaning and source. See the essay, http://japaneseropeart.com/RopeArt/Shichiseki.html
shinju - Japanese for "Pearls". Shinju is used to refer euphemistically to pearls = breast/nipples. This refers to a tie of the chest / breast area, usually not including the arms. The origin of this term is one of two European Webmasters who both claim to have made up this name for a chest harness tie. There is no actual usage of the term in Japan releated to kinbaku / shibari.
(心中, the characters for "mind" and "centre")
See footnote 11 below.
*Note it has been erroneously asserted on the Internet that this particular chest tie was the one used when Japanese loves tied themselves together and performed shinjū or a double suicide by throwing themselves off a bridge. This is internet mythology.
sokubaku - bondage: literally - restraint, shackles, restriction, confinement
take - bamboo. Bamboo is used in numerous ways in Japanese culture, including in bondage. Bamboo is used in flutes, ladles, chopsticks, and window blinds, bows, arrows, and spears; as well as martial arrts, music, tea ceremony, and flower arranging.
take shibari - Using bamboo in Japanese Bondage
tanuki tsuri - "Tanuki" literally refers a "raccoon like animal indigenous to Japan. "Tsuri" refers to suspension. This tie is to tie up the subject by wrists and then ankles in a face up bent at the position as taught by Mai Randi.
tomei nawa - refers to the safety rope from the rear which is placed in between the armpits around the wraps above the breasts to prevent them from sliding up over the shoulders, creating a dangerous situation around the bottoms neck. Sometimes this is referred to as a "cinch" rope, but caution is advised, as cinching implies a tightening down, which can potentially cause nerve injuries and / or circulation problems. This rope should only be secured lightly. Do NOT cinch.
torinawa - The martial art of restraining with ropes.
tsuri / tsurusu -
suspend or hang up / nawa-tsuri = rope suspension
**Note of interest - "tsuriai" means balance or harmony.
tsurinawa - suspension with rope
tsuriwaza - suspension work
tsurizeme - the forth torture technique used during the Edo period.. It is the act of being suspended with rope with the arms and sometimes legs bound behind the back in a reverse spread eagle position. Pressing stones were sometimes added.
ushirode - behind, to the rear.
ushirode gassho - this is a tie with the arms in a prayer position behind the back.
ushirode takatekote - a basic foundational Kinbaku (tight binding) form; binding the arms and wrists behind the back. The term Ushiro Takatekote is made up of two romanji words: "ushiro" which means "behind the back" and "tekatekote" which means "bound hands and arms". This behind the back box arm tie is based upon ties originally found in the samurai martial art of Hojo-jutsu or Nawajutsu, which later evolved into its erotic usage at the end of the 19th centruy and early 20th century. It is foundational to many other Kinbaku ties. (Tatu)
ushirode tasuki - this is a chest harness tie, again with the classic Japanese u-shape arms behind the back. It is characterized by two opposing diagonal ties crossing between the breasts.
yoko tsuri - yoko literally translated means, "side". This term refers to being suspended in a sideways position
yukawaza - literally floor work, refers to the Kinbaku art of rope bondage techniques performed on the floor. "Yuka" = Floor; "Waza" = Art, Technique, deed, act, work, performance.
zarei - bow from seated / kneeling position.
zemewaza - torture work
Shinju, Sakuranbo, Karada, and Kotori
There has been alot of confusion concerning certain terms that we use in the west to describe different ties that we observe Japanese rope artists performing.
Of note there are several terms that have been floating around on websites and in books referring to these terms. So, I recently embarked on a journey to discover their roots.
I have seen these terms used in a number of places through the years, but I have been unable to discover their true origin as of this date. I first saw them on Tammad's website years ago, and then one or two of them in the book, "Screw The Roses". Later I saw them on a European commercial website. Tammand has passed from us so I don't guess we will ever know where he got them from.
I made some contacts in Japan to inquire among the most well know performers in Tokyo, and honestly the response was interesting. These terms were met with laughter as their usage in Japan is unknown.
Shinju is the japanese word for "pearl", and it is used to describe a tie or chest harness of the chest and breasts. It is used euphemistically of the breasts or nipples as pearls.
Sakuranbo Sakuru is the term for "cherry" and is used to denote the bottom tie of the female waist and is euphemistically used to refer to the vagina.
Karada, is the Japanese word for "body". This term has been used to describe the body weave.
Kotori, is the word for bird, and bondagers have used it describe a chest harness used in face down suspension.
So where did these terms come from, if not the Japanese Bondagers? My guess are the imaginative people behind some of the Japanese Bondage commercial websites.
That said they are not bad terms to describe some of the things we do. In fact they are quite lovely terms. It is just a little disappointing to find out that they are not used in Japan. Some of them are quite romantic ways of using language and are probably why they have caught on so widely.
There are some terms used in Japanese culture of animals and birds (also used in martial arts) that are being used to describe bondage ties. Such as: Kani meaning crab, crane etc . As far as I can tell these animal names, etc for bondage positions are also unknown in Japan, but the product of western commercial bondage websites.
2 Langenscheidt Japanese Dictionary (c) 1998
3 Dr. Richard Cleaver
4 Internet website: www.kikkou.com
5 Mai Randai
6 Sikou Sima
7 Master K
8 Dr. D. Vice
9 Tokyo Journal - Japanese S&M Part
III (2/99) "Rope Masters of Japan",
10 Jpn-Eng General
(EDICT) / Jim Breem's WWW.JDIC
Remember that the Japanese language is a character language reflective of sounds. Expressing these sounds in English are done so with a system called Romai, "romanizing" the sounds. Using the macron of the o is reflective of the revised Hepburn system.
In traditional and revised Hepburn systems the long vowels o and u are indicated by a macron, ie a long o is written ō and a long u is written ū. "Macron" is Greek for "long"; used to mean long vowel sound.
However long vowels e is written ei, long vowel i is written ii, and words of foreign origin all long vowels are written using macrons.
In modified Hepburn all long vowels are written by
doubling the vowel, so a long o would be written with as oo.