Sex & Gender

Shibari, Japanese Rope Art, Turns Kinky Bondage Play Into Art at Mizucon

See Seven Crazy Cosplay Characters, and more photos from Mizucon 2012.

Walking among Mizucon's cosplay, anime showings, and teens eating Japanese candy, you would think that the annual convention of anime and other assorted geekery would be considered child's play.

But Master Tatu, his lovely assistants, and lengths upon lengths of hemp rope combined to deliver something more adult-oriented on Saturday night.

Tatu provided a workshop on shibari, Japanese rope art, which began much like an undergraduate class. He scrolled through a jam-packed PowerPoint presentation detailing the origins of shibari, and even passed out a handout for everyone to follow along. But this was far from a dry, boring lecture. This was a hands-on introduction to the intersection of bondage and art.

Tatu prefers to use the terms "kinbaku" (tight binding with a rope,) or "kinbaku-bi" (beautiful tight binding) to describe the rope bondage. Master Tatu made it clear that the rope is to be respected, and that the connections people make with each other during the process of binding are what make it art versus your average kink: "I am looking at a canvas. I am making art on this body." Rather than focusing on the inevitable sexual payoff, he is looking to "wrap [a] beautiful soul in beautiful rope."

Many viewers were leftovers from the previous panel showing hentai, pornographic movies, and Tatu could tell they were looking for some payoff beyond the history lesson. Tatu flipped back and forth between his two assistants, one of them his life partner, the other a fetish model clad in a schoolgirl outfit removed to reveal a matching set of Hello Kitty underwear --definitely dressed for the Mizucon crowd. The master, using various lengths of 25-foot rope, took us through demonstrations of basic ties, such as the body harness, wrist cuffs, and "gote" -- tying the arms and wrists behind the back. It all looked incredibly complex, but he assured us that it needn't be -- that the beauty was in the simplicity.

One couple in the audience brought their own rope, and tried to follow along with Tatu as he showed off more rope patterns, cuffs, and ties, the rope sometimes working to form diamond shapes over a woman's body. It was all pretty damned impressive, and it looked more and more beautiful and sacred rather than just plain ol' kinky as the night went on. It wasn't all serious, though: He was able to eek out a good amount of knowing giggles when showing how to create the "Japanese happy knot," or the komon hirashi harness -- literally translated as "anus exposed." You can use your imagination.

We lamented that he couldn't show us any actual suspension rope work like the kind he performed at this year's Fetish Factory anniversary party, but the presentation was enough to leave interested kinksters wanting more.

You can find extra tutorials and more information on how to get started making beautiful ties at his website: You can also friend him on FetLife at

--Elisa Melendez

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