Semantics of Shibari vs Kinbaku

Creator: Kinoko Hajime

So what does the word Shibari mean?
The dictionary definition is “the act of tying” but as with so many words in Japanese, the meaning depends upon the context in which could be used to refer to tying such things as parcels, objects, etc To take the word out of context removes much of its meaning. In a discussion on bondage – Shibari is a word for ‘bondage tying’.

What is Shibari vs Kinbaku?
As in the rest of the world, the Japanese have differing opinions on which is the best term to use for not only Shibari or Kinbaku but other terms that may apply to the art of bondage tying.

So we may have a situation where shibari means to tie, and kinbaku is a rather recent word meaning “to tie tightly so that there is no movement after the tie”.

Another opinion is that ‘Shibari’ is bondage tying and that Kinbaku is ‘Shibari’ plus emotional connection – to “tie deeply”.

Practitioners seem to use the words interchangeably and you’d be invited to learn Shibari at Kinbaku workshops. Recognized Japanese practitioners prefer one or the other to some extent, this does not however mean that one is valid and the other is not. They are all valid.  These are not contradictions, only preferences of expression.

Most Japanese rope artists instinctively gravitate towards one or the other in their conversations depending upon the circumstances.

For instance, an artist explicitly describes his rope as “Shibari not Kinbaku” while he qualifies some other rope artists as “doing Kinbaku, not Shibari”. He often says that he wishes to tie to the point where the model can move a little bit in the tie, thinking she can untie herself, when – in fact, she cannot.

There are situations where all Japanese agree: is that in the sentence “let’s do Japanese rope together”, it is always Shibarimashou (let’s shibari) and not “kinbaku o shimashou” (let’s kinbaku).


2 Comments on “Semantics of Shibari vs Kinbaku”

  1. Wonderful creation and inspiring too 👍

    Liked by 1 person


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