Many thanks to Hedwig for allowing us to use her reviews from her More Inches blog.
Here is a review of Kinoko Hajime’s ‘neo-shibari’ show:
“When the music started there was a creature entering the stage, dressed in a shiny zentai-suit. The creature moved slowly over the floor, with supple, feline movements, smooth but cautious. The music was fast-paced, light dimmed. Kinoko entered the stage, grabbed the creature, pushing her fast over his knee, backwards, holding his hands around her neck. This was the start of a very visual performance, with a pumping electronic music. He starts to tie her, with a fluorescent green rope. The tying itself is smooth, slick and fast. Because of the colour of the rope and the way he moves it around the model, it almost looks like he is using strands of flowing oil instead of rope to tie the zentai-creature. Every touch is precise, every movement controlled but extending through to the audience, moving with the music, but only in a very subtle way.
He ties her into a 3 rope TK and a hip-harness, first moving her into a upright suspension. When he starts spinning her and leaving the stage, a laser and light-show comes on, creating incredible visuals. Throughout the show, this is what happens when he has done a transition. Kinoko moves on to tie a gyaku-ebi, to a fully inverted sakasa, with only the ankles supporting the model. He then shifts the support into the hip-harness, bringing down the legs, futomomo style. Between every one of these transitions, another light-show comes on, and it creates a very futuristic feel. The last transitions is when he flips the model over, so she hangs from the hip-harness, like a D lying on its back. With the rope, he then ties it around the legs and face of the model. This last shape, he pulls her higher than the others, staging a powerful crescendo. As she is in this position he starts to throw heaps of fluorescent rope on her, furthering the entanglement with the rope, that which connects them and their audience, then and there.”
Kazami Ranki is one of the legends of the Japanese kinbaku scene and a veteran of many videos. For me, his performance was the most moving at Toubaku. Here is an account of his show by Hedwig:
“The only thing I thought I knew about him was how though he could be both as a rigger and a sadist, but to my surprise, there was not a lot of what I had expected of seme-nawa, torturous rope, going on. There was indeed rope which was truly demanding for the model, but what was so very special about this performance was the incredibly strong connection between them, it literally radiated out in the audience. His presence on stage was matched by that of his model, who again, was clearly such a strong woman. At one point, I could not stop staring at her legs, as the muscles that relaxed and tensed as she was moved in the ropes were so clearly defined. But the most intense moment of all came when Ranki untied her, and as they sat on the floor, something extraordinary happened. When the last strand of rope was about to taken off her chest, she leaned into his arms, and as they cuddled she started crying. It was not long before the last rope had been removed, and at that point, Ranki himself was crying as well. I had never seen anything like it, nor expected to do so. It was a moment where e the audience, including yours truly, was so affected by the feeling of unison and devotion between the two on stage, that they themselves broke out in tears. It was so amazing seeing a rigger and his model being so close to each other through their experience as well as letting us, the audience in on such an amazing show of vulnerability. One might forget from time to time, that even though riggers are the ones who are in control, they are too often so very vulnerable. In order to connect with someone, you really have to open up to not only see them as for they are but also letting those who are tied into one’s own heart. When that happen, magic such as the magic we got to witness in the case of Ranki and his model is indeed created. It was so touching and truly an honour to be allowed to witness this at Toubaku 2011. “
Umitsuki Kurage is a member of Ichinawa-Kai, a rope-collective managed and sponsored by Kinoko himself, and it was many of the members of this collective who during the weekend stood out from the crowd in their styles and approaches to rope.
Ottonawa is a member of Ichinawa-Kai, who performed at Toubaku. He’s the only performer, apart from myself, that I have seen using Frank Zappa for show music! His model will be Wakabayashi Miko.
Yoi is a female kinbakushi. Here’s an account of her spell-binding show at Toubaku:
“After then again returning back to the venue of the festival, the first artist we got to see was Yoi. And what a start it was. Entering the room, the light dimmed and just a very faint spotlight and candle lit the whole performance,giving it an air of us sitting in and watching this show taking place in moonlight. Both the model and the rigger used masks, the model wore a fox one and the colour scheme was deliberately white, red and some black. Slow undressing followed, revealing a model with the face painted in the same fox-pattern as that on the mask, and together with the atmospheric soundscape that shifted between traditional Japanese music such as the shamisen, then Japanese children singing, and then to just the sound of rain, a different world opened up, a world that Yoi and her fox invited us to see. A fox which was about to be caught in carefully placed, beautifully crafted rope. The focus here was not speed or flashy, instant rope, but instead slow, deliberate tying, in which the fox followed, albeit with that slight hesitation and curiosity and in the same time, with delicious submission. There was so many things in this performance that has made me continue to think about it constantly since returning. Tie ties themselves flowed, starting off with a TK. She was then suspended face down, very low and very close to the floor, which felt really perfect for this kind of fox. The feral creature which was the model moved incredibly gracefully, responding and communicating through her whole body. It was one of those performances that you did not want it to end.”
Ero Oji, which translates as Erotic Prince, also performed at Toubaku. Although, we have been given no info for his bio, Osada Steve speaks highly of his work.
Shigonawa Bingo will be performing with his model Akane. Another Toubaku star, whose show is described here:
“Him and his very muscular self started the performance by half-dressed, lying down to rest, only dressed in the the traditional loin-cloth fundoshi, After a couple of moments, a woman walks out on stage, sees him resting, strokes his cheek, drapes her juban over him and stroke his face yet again. Bingo moves away, turns over and tries to go back to sleep. As this is unsuccessful, he sits up, looking at her and then put on the juban. These few minutes before the tying started really set another special tone for a performance. The props used, how they related to each other, etc., all made it feel like a scene between a husband and wife, or at least between two loved ones who knew each other very well.
There was a special caring touch in the way that he rested her hands upon his knee when tying her wrists, the way in which he used his whole body to move her, with or with out the rope. The ties he used varied slightly form the regular TK that could be seen during the weekend. As I returned from Tokyo, I tried to tie it from memory and found it was both easy, steady and very good support, and according to the bunny, very comfortable. The chest harness made it possible for the hands and the arms of the model can be tied separately. There was a lot of small details that caught your eye in this performance; from how the tenugui, which is usually used as a blindfold, gag or tool to inflict pain (when it is wet, it hurts!), but here it is first introduced as a washcloth covered in water, which he squeezes over her body. A small move, but with a big response, it made her whole body tremble and the skin react immediately. In one of the final moments, a hand came out from the side of the screen, pushed the button on a bottle, and provided the couple with snow, trickling down over them… Different and touching indeed, but the hand coming out from no where made both me and my friend giggle, as random as it was.”
In addition, here are some links to external reviews: