Kinbiken are an independent bondage video company in Tokyo who’ve been in existence for several years notching up a catalogue of hundreds of videos. They see their work as a continuance of the deep rooted Japanese tradition of rope bondage (shibari) – concentrating on the artistry and aesthetics of the form (anything other than hemp rope just won’t do). They hold regular monthly meetings for members to observe their video sessions and learn about SM from one of the most notable ropemasters in Japan – if not the undisputed master – Chimou Nureki.

I first saw Kinbiken videos whilst still in England having been sent copies by Masami Akita, a noise musician whom i was swapping letters with, who also happened to be acting as a cameraman for Kinbiken. The films had an instantly recognisable unassuming personal style, filmed with the minimum of editing (and maximum of close-ups) with a hand-held camera. No plots and no dialogue but, nevertheless, a highly engaging viewing experience. Some tapes contained short outtakes and suchlike added as codas but mostly they relied purely on the dexterity of sensei Nureki and the performance (?) of the girl being tied up. I was particularly attracted to one model in the films, Youri Sunohara, who i was surprised to learn was actually the director of Kinbiken. I sent a ‘fan letter’ which initiated a correspondence and subsequently a kind invitation to a Kinbiken meeting after i arrived in Japan late 1993.

Although rather daunting for me as a ‘gaijin’ unable to speak Japanese, the meeting was informal and friendly and i was enthusiastically welcomed – especially after showing a selection of my work. Nureki seemed intrigued and requested (demanded?) i attend their next meeting – presumably enjoying the perversity of a foreigner present rather than being impressed by my hardly adequate replies to his questions – or maybe he just saw my enjoyment and admiration during their activities that day. I was subsequently invited back several times, culminating in Youri Sunohara’s very last appearance as a model – with the beautiful petite Youri clad in a kimono (part of the time at least) and the meeting held in a decrepit old japanese house, this was a very memorable event and highlight of my life in japan.

That was three years ago (already?) and though my wife and i have maintained friendly contact with Youri i’d not been privileged to attend any further Kinbiken meetings. French artist Romain Slocombe had invoked the wrath of Nureki for disrespect – noisily chatting up models during a meeting he was invited to, so maybe gaijin were deemed not quite so desirable any longer? However, perhaps partly reassured by my ability to pick out rope work by Nureki in a magazine*, last month during afternoon tea with my wife Youri asked if i’d like to attend their next meeting – particularly as it was to feature another of my favourite models – Hiromi Saotome.

*not as difficult as it sounds – Nureki’s work very apparent by being infinitely better.

Sunday 1st June 1997 – It was a typically humid early summer Tokyo day so had to sit and cool off for a bit after the 15 minute walk to their Shinjuku basement studio, before joining the small crowd gathered round a table on which was laid out photos from the previous meeting – Nureki pointing out and discussing salient aspects of various images. Thankfully not so many members in attendance this day so there wouldn’t be so much jostling for position to get the best camera angles during the proceedings to follow. Masami Akita also absent – apparently involved in a live concert.

After suspending a thick beam from the rafters Nureki changes to his inevitable black t-shirt, lights are set up and Hiromi is positioned stage centre attired in office girl clothes. Usually Nureki deliberately picks very ordinary girls as his models (‘victims’!) because they retain more japaneseness (?) – whilst modern cutesy girls are too tainted by western culture i deducted. [Youri got teased for her small bum – but an asset in my consideration!]. However, Hiromi is remarkably cute for a model of 15 years in the trade. A looooooooong dialogue with the girl commences – partly designed to increase her nervous anticipation?

Cameras flash but i’m waiting for the real action to begin, which it does with breathtaking speed and suddenness – the pretty butterfly swiftly becomes a pinned specimen.

I’ll spare you, or annoy you by not describing, the full extent of the indignities performed upon her body – but repeatedly she’s left collapsed in a pile of liberated ropes before being trussed up yet again in new unseemly positions and perpetually tormented. You can predict that a display of aversion to her discarded panties will result in said item being employed as a gag stuffed in her mouth. And she’s relentlessly filmed throughout it all – even after the ‘performance’ is over and she’s retreating humiliated to the mistaken safety of the ladies ‘rest room’.

My wife, Konomi, also came along this day (previously she’d always left me to fend for myself) – though politely sitting in the background her attention was firmly riveted whenever i glanced back. During an intermission in the proceedings in which a buxom older girl was tied up and talked about her (part time) career modelling in SM magazines, Konomi was also coerced into the pleasures of bondage by the master – it took a lot of persuasion and just one rope permitted though!

A ‘how to bondage’ lesson follows – too difficult to follow and remember! – before Hiromi once again becomes the guinea pig in further extremes of maltreatment. Hot molten candle wax is dripped onto her squirming and unwilling but unable-to-do-much-about-it body taking the poor lass to the limits of her pain threshold … as well as bringing this meeting’s events to a satisfying climax. For me, much enjoyed, needless to say?! (And Hiromi loved every second of it too!)

Trevor Brown

Leaving his repressive home country of England for the fantastic world of Japan, Trevor Brown’s current works exhibit a Japanese aesthetic in his beautiful studies of dolls, medical fetishism and bondage techniques. He has become the reigning king of “degenerate art”.