Rope is what the Doctor Ordered
(This interview with Shibari grandmaster Nureki Chimuo dates back to 2006, when Osada Steve took international video artist Hito Steyerl on a Tokyo tour for her video installation Lovey Andreaat the Documenta 2007. Nureki Chimuo is also featured in the recently released Bakushi movie together with grandmaster Yukimura Haruki.)
Just as maverick photographer Nobuyoshi Araki claims to have been born with a lens on his nose, veteran Kinbaku grandmaster Nureki Chimuo too has an interesting story to tell: “I did my first bondage tying up the nurse with my umbilical cord,” he reveals. It’s only natural that geniuses get started early in life. Neither Araki nor Nureki, so it seems, chose their craft. Rather, their craft chose them.
Having tied about 4,500 women to date, Nureki is by a wide margin the undisputed Shibari/Kinbaku King, and not just as far as numbers are concerned. His talents were nurtured by the legendary Minomura Ko (aka Kita Reiko), the editor of the infamous Kitan Club magazine, that kicked off a whole new generation of SM enthusiasts and famous writers like Oniroku Dan. Already active in the world of perverts from his student days, Nureki first contributed SM stories and photo series to Kitan Club, then went on to become editor of Uramado magazine. In a career now spanning five decades, Nureki sensei continues to make his mark on many SM and kinky mags, and also has a number of books to his name.
To most people with an interest in Kinbaku, Nureki is best known for his work as bondage master. This part of his career really started to take off with the advent of the video recorder when SM labels such as Art Video and Cinemagic first appeared. Nureki also deserves credit as founder of Kinbiken (Society for the Beauty of Suffering), which has gained a huge cult following and has spawned a large body of Shibari works. In short, Nureki Chimuo is a living legend. Approaching 80 years of age, he shows no signs of letting up.
Now, what exactly is the secret that makes women yearn to be tied by him? What better way to find out than by watching the master at work? At Sanwa Publishing we catch up with the maestro during a photo shoot for Mania Club bondage magazine.
Holding a busted-up cover of an old video in my hand, I muster the courage to approach the master: “Sensei, this is the first bondage video I ever saw. This is the one that got me hooked on Shibari. In it you play Kyoto sensei.”
“So-oo?” the maestro replies, seemingly unimpressedd. “A video with a sensei from Kyoto? What’s so special about it?”
“No, not from Kyoto. Kyoto, as in vice principal.” (One of the pitfalls of the Japanese language is the fact that many words with different meanings sound alike.)
“Ahh, I remember now. Yes, in those days they were still making good stuff. This one is with Art Video done in the early 1980s. We offered the woman 7,000 yen (approx. $70), and started shooting right away. We ended up producing 12 titles in the Kyoto sensei series. They don’t make them like that anymore.”
Thank goodness. The ice is broken, I think to myself. After all, rumors abound that describe the maestro as, uh, difficult. One such story tells of a French journalist who was thrown out by Nureki for some infraction, or perhaps a temporary lapse in attentiveness. To this day the poor chap is still puzzling over why he earned the wrath of the rope master. One thing is sure, he never saw it coming. The sweat from my palms is slowly turning the ink on the video jacket into a dripping mess. If I had a pacemaker, it would require recalibration now. And the interview has barely started . . .
The lights and cameras are all set up now, and today’s model is ready to be bound and ravished by the maestro. She is a real beauty. Unfortunately, she completely ignores me, doesn’t even return my greeting. Is it perhaps I’m too young for her? Or is it that she cannot sense my irresistible and utterly unbelievable rope powers? Or might she simply be constipated and in need of some medical attention?
Dressed in a non-revealing, non-descript OL (office lady) outfit that only hints at her assets, she is now approaching a medicine cabinet next to Nureki sensei who is wearing a white doctor’s coat. “There is nothing wrong with that woman that my rope can’t fix,” he seems to be thinking, then promptly commences tying the girl’s arms behind her back. Whether it’s the rope, or the constant banter of the doctor, the patient’s cheeks, which had been rather pale, magically transform into a blushing pink.
But any good doctor needs to attack the illness at its roots. In this particular case it is a crotch rope (mata nawa) that is called for. The woman begins to moan, and under the relentless lewd banter from the doctor, her hips begin to gyrate. “Yarashi! (how slutty),” the doctor praises. “Now we need to expose some ass,” he continues, and pulls down her panties over the crotch rope to reveal a well-formed buttocks. The woman, in her high heels, is hopping now and appears truly shamed and embarrassed (hazukashi). A few more shameful situations and she seems completely cured of her haughtiness and can be released from the ropes.
Rope and lewd talk are the perfect cure for naughty girls, I think to myself while casting a glance at the desirable Asagi Agehawho is acting as interpreter today.
Successfully transformed into a slutty bitch, our office lady can now look forward to harder (hageshi) action. The scene thus moves to a Japanese-style setting with wooden beams that beckon for a suspension regimen. Nureki sensei has removed his white coat and is now the pure and unadulterated master. After lots of strict tying, lewd talk and heavy fondling, the woman begins to climax. Bliss on her face, tears rolling down her cheeks, she is given a rest for the experience to properly settle in.
I seize the opportunity to ask Nureki some additional questions, which turns out to actually mean listening to the sensei’s collective thoughts.
“Kinbaku is not something you can teach to somebody,” he starts. “Therefore, the way I see it, a relationship like Shisho/Deshi (teacher/disciple) is extremely rare in this genre. I have produced numerous tutorial videos, but even if somebody wanted to copy what he sees in these works, nobody will be able to do that. It’s because Kinbaku is different every time you tie. While the actual ties may be similar, the experience, the emotions, they are never the same.
“The most important thing is heart. You ought to have heart. At the same time technique is important, too. Even if you had the greatest desire to tie someone, without technique you would fail.”
“Are your skills and your technique still advancing?” I dare to ask.
“If you want to talk about improvement, for example, if a girl has 15 fingers here, I am going to do a suitable Shibari for that girl. Every time, even the same tie will be totally different depending on the situation, like either doing it on a slender girl or on a woman who weighs 150kg. No Shibari is ever the same. Ever, ever, ever.”
“What is your understanding of SM in Japan?”
“Well, I believe that people with really deep-rooted obsessions, they don’t read SM magazines anymore. Nowadays, in the SM world, the bottom got so large, the entire genre became shallow. In the process, the number of real hardcore SM people decreased. Real maniacs don’t go out to show their obsessions in public. To them, it is too deep emotionally to be able to share. They’d rather keep it within themselves.
“Take the rubber fetishist, for example. In the old days such people had to wait for the rain to venture out in their coats with nothing underneath. Today you can order fancy latex gear by mail and show up at kinky parties.”
“Do you put on any live shows or performances?”
“I never do that. I don’t want to show my Kinbaku in front of people who do not understand what this is all about. For example, today’s shooting, everybody here, Sanwa Publishing’s people, they all understand. That’s why I’m here, doing what I’m doing. Even at my Kinbiken events new people constantly were asking to be allowed to join. But if I judged them to be ignorant about the heart of the matter, I would ask them to leave.”
I have another burning question on my lips when suddenly, without warning, Nureki makes his move and starts propositioning Asagi Ageha to be bound by him.
A few strands of rope later and my erstwhile interpreter is oblivious to her earthly surroundings and floating in some land that only a few privileged m-jo can visit, moaning and weeping crocodile tears. Does she cry because of her dog that died ten years ago? But no, that can’t be. Is it because of the deep pain residing in her heart? Or is it the magic feel of the rope . . . and the lewd banter of the sensei?
What a pity, I think to myself. Now, that she has tasted the rope of a true master, will I ever be able to satisfy her again with my amateur Shibari? Perhaps I should go back to the drawing board to study more Shibari . . . and to catch up on banter.