Akechi Denki visiting Europe (1998)
Japanese-inspired erotic rope bondage is now a widespread subculture in Europe. In the last few years, we have also seen a number of Japanese bakushi visiting Europe to give workshops, master-classes, private tuition and make performances. This has had a huge impact.
In this blog-post I share an article written by Ayano Katsuragi for the magazine SM Sniper (January 1999). In addition to her writing, Ayano Katsuragi collaborated as a model for example with Nureki Chimuo, Osada Eikichi and Yukimura Haruki. You can read more about her here: http://smpedia.com/index.php?title=桂木綾乃
The topic for her article is Akechi’s first trip to the Netherlands that took place in 1998 (July 25th – August 1st). (Akechi returned for a second visit during the De Mask EuroPerve-party in 1999, together with Raika, Randa Mai, Mira Kurumi, Mai Itoh and Kanda Tsubaki. But that is a story for another time.)
I have been in contact with the manager of Club Doma, and some Dutch and German rope-friends, and hope later to be able to add some material from this visit as reported in some European SM-publictions.
A great THANK YOU to rish for her work with the translation.
Katsuragi Ayano: Bound up in The Netherlands
Akechi Denki, the top name of Kinbaku stage shows, was invited to go to Europe to perform a Kinbaku session. A session that was even written about in the general press. Assisting him is Katsuragi Ayano, who has written down her thoughts about this experience, accompanied here by Handa Ryosuke’s gorgeous photos.
It’s been a while. It’s Ayano. A while ago, I wrote about my experiences in the column ”Ayano no taikendan”, but it’s been four years since I somewhat mysteriously disappeared from Sniper’s pages. It’ll become too long if I wrote about what’s happened since last time, so I’ll just write about the very interesting things that happened this summer.
It started with a phone call from Akechi-sensei.
‘How are you? Are you doing well?’
It was Saturday afternoon and I was in a sort of in an idle slumber when suddenly, he asked me a question: ‘Won’t you come with me to The Netherlands?’
A model would follow Akechi-sensei to The Netherlands and show what Japanese Kinbaku is.
After some further conversation about the details, it seemed like a very interesting project that would allow me to enjoy SM in The Netherlands.
I said yes right away, because it meant I could go to a famous torture museum I had heard about and become fascinated by. Also, I could be some kind of good-will ambassador. From there it was a busy two weeks with preparations for the trip, and then – on to Narita Airport.
We assembled at Narita Airport at 8.20 in the morning. Before that, I had no idea who the other people coming with us were, but it turned out I had met all of them in one way or another already. Everyone’s magnificent.
First of all, there were some people from the company that organised this trip – Square Ship (they have produced ”Hana no onnazumou” etc); The producer of a cat fight film, Nakano Tadao; A photographer and writer whose work is featured in this report, Handa Ryosuke; And a dominatrix, Kuronuki Hyouko. There was a huge interest in going on this trip, even from ordinary people, but it’s hard to take leave for a week on such short notice with plans changing and so on. There were also people who were going to meet up with us in The Netherlands (from England, Portugal, Los Angeles). It felt so international and I was very excited.
The plane took off at noon and we arrived the same day just past three o’ clock at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I was a bit surprised at immigration control, because they checked the persons before us, but let us go straight through without checking us. It’s a shame because I would have wanted a stamp. And also, what if I was an atrocious terrorist? Such big-hearted people, I thought.
We met up with the rest of the group and took the shuttle bus to hotel in The Hague. The view from the window was even more beautiful than I had imagined. I thought that the houses were so cute because they all looked the same; it made me feel that I was really in Europe.
The hotel was just as luxurious as I’d heard it was, but I was overwhelmed the most by the view of the sea. I hadn’t associated The Netherlands with the sea and I was at loss of words when I saw the seaside view, the little shops, and the merry-go-round. It will stay bright outside because The Netherlands is in a high latitude, and you won’t get all sticky from the breeze because there is not much humidity. We had dinner at a restaurant by the seaside and got acquainted with each other and enjoyed the view of the setting sun.
Experiences at the torture museum
It was time to visit my beloved torture museum. I’ve mentioned this before, but I had a history teacher in high school that would tell me all sorts of trivia. Since he was a history teacher, he’d tell me about witch-hunts and the types of torture that was used during that time and I would borrow books from him about those kinds of things. The day before the graduation ceremony, he called me out. I remember thinking if I’d done anything bad, he wasn’t my class teacher after all, but I was nervous. He gave me a graduation present. It was a book called ”The world history of torture”. Thinking back, he must have seen through me… Anyway I’ve liked it since I was little.
I was surprised at how plain the museum looked. There it was, in the middle of town. It was pretty old and intricately built. They say people were actually tormented here in the olden days. There were many instruments of torture displayed and descriptions of how they were used. There would be guillotine executions announced at the square and the people would play football with the chopped-off heads. The guide-lady told us this quite cheerfully; I thought she was quite strange. While waiting for a sentence, they would cram the prisoners in a tiny jail-cell (barely 2 sqm) with fresh wounds. They also used stones, some of which were laying around in the museum. There was a real Spanish Donkey as well; it looked like it would really hurt if sat on. I really really wanted to touch the front of it but I wasn’t allowed to. I wonder why the instruments humans have used to inflict pain and pleasure are so genius. They’ve really thought about how to make it really hurt. Just thinking about it makes me excited.
The day after arrival: Performing a kinbaku show at an SM club
I would have liked to take my time and enjoy my stay, but I had serious matters to attend to – the performance at one of Europe’s most prominent clubs, CLUB DOMA. I had a look at one of their pamphlets before going; it’s truly extravagant there. They spend their money differently than in Japan. The audience can leisurely watch the show and drink alcohol. There were also well-equipped play rooms, and each one of them were gorgeous. They also had lots of original videos.
The shows were usually only on weekend nights, but they advertised intensely, so although the shows were held in the middle of the day, lots of people gathered, and there was this strange excitement in the air. There were also about 30 people from Germany for news coverage, and as if pushing their way through the crowd were some women in bondage outfits working as waitresses. Compared to me, foreigners are huge. I’m so dainty compared to them.
The stage was smaller than I thought, and the audience is right in front of you, so you can see their reactions directly.
‘Hello, nice to meet you!’ The owner and his wife came out and we shook hands. They talked about the four shows on the program. First, they would put on a show, then it would be me and Sensei, then their turn again, and lastly Sensei and a Dutch woman. There was some time before the show, so they told us to relax for a while. We sat in the back and had some alcohol to ease our nerves when something happened.
‘Uh-oh, I’ve forgot something….’ Don’t you think Akechi-sensei looks scary in magazines or videos? He’s an honest gentleman like other rope artists I’ve met, but he is also very scatterbrained. When we arrived at the hotel, he realised he had forgotten his bag with his wallet and passport on the bus (luckily they found it quickly). This time, he had forgotten the bamboo whip he had especially brought from Japan. One of the staff members called a taxi so we just about made it in time. Right, Sensei?
The lights were dimmed and curtains opened. The show started. Until then, the audience had been noisy, but now they became silent. This was my first time on foreign grounds and I let my body embark on a new adventure. On the stage were a man and a woman, he in his forties, and her in her twenties.
Until then I’d only seen it on videos, but the people there were all shaved and had piercings. Also, tattoos. I wonder how they see my, in that sense, untouched body.
The man touched her really, really gently, and sometimes pulled at her nipple piercing. And used a whip (he was using a cat-of-nine-tails)… He was winding it up and lashing out.
‘So that hurts, huh?’ I spontaneously asked the Londoner next to me.
‘It might look soft, but he keeps hitting the same spot.’
I see. The skin kept getting redder and redder. Every now and then, he’d lash out strongly. A new question came to mind. She hardly moved or let out any sounds even if it hurt. It was like she was taking in the pain. I felt the reaction was kind of strange.
‘In the West, it’s considered good if you endure the pain and only let out sounds when it’s unbearable.’
That’s interesting. Westerners usually have quite a showy body-language, yet now it’s good when they don’t show much? There are so many differences… No time to be impressed, though. We’re up next!
In the backstage room, I put on a yukata and Sensei a jinbei. We thought it fitting to have something explicitly Japanese for this.
‘Let’s do our best, Ayano-chan…’
Of course we will. It’s an honor. Well, doing my best means letting my body go with the flow – the rest is up to Sensei. ‘Yes’, I answered as I was tying my hair up. It’ll probably get unraveled later on.
I kept asking myself: Why the Netherlands? I was puzzled. This might be just my own perception, but wouldn’t Germany or France be the more obvious place? Of course, there are a lot of places for SM, but their guards are up. It’s a bit unlikely for them to accept a foreigner like me (it’s pretty hard getting in to DOMA too). As you know, the Netherlands is where marijuana and prostitution is legal. There are so-called coffee shops where they smoke and use marijuana; there are also the famous display windows. They are loyal to their desires, or rather tolerant.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for our special guest all the way from Japan. The rope artist Mister Akechi and his slave!’
The announcement was made, and the audience became silent.
‘Do your best, Ayano-chan. We will be taking pictures.’ Handa was gripping his camera, grinning. On the other side of the stage were the people from Germany. What on earth have I signed up for?
The curtains opened. The audience was really close. You can’t really see them, because of the darkness, but I was painfully aware that their eyes were on me. I thought for a moment: I can’t do this. I’m weak… and thinking about it, I haven’t done this in front of people for a while and I’m in a faraway country.
It’s also sad not to be seen, but in that instance I didn’t want them to look. Please, don’t look, I thought. I just wanted to disappear, but there was no chance of that happening. As I was thinking all of this, my body was bound up and my skin was exposed. I’ve seen them use ropes in the West, but just as a tool for restriction. We were here to show the pain and pleasure that can be inflicted by a single rope. The rope was like magic as I was bound up. It seemed like my reactions piqued their interest.
Sensei became more determined and suspended me mid-air. Things are a bit hazy in my memory, but I do remember hearing saliva being swallowed from the audience. Candles, and the wax dripping onto my body, and the bamboo whip that relentlessly struck me. I was unable to pay attention to my surroundings and just screamed with all my strength. It echoed throughout the room.
The audience was shocked by Akechi’s and Ayano’s hardcore kinbaku performance. There were announcements saying: ‘This is not abuse’.
I heard applause when I came to myself. Sensei was drenched in sweat.
It’s always the same after every performance, I get this washed-out feeling, but I also feel very refreshed, and it’s exhilarating. The owner and his wife came on to the stage and started talking. What were they saying? I talked to the interpreters and they said it was something in the lines of:
‘She didn’t cry because she was sad, they were tears of joy. It might have looked like abuse to you, but this is not the case.’
The people in West are used to softer reactions, so to them our style was very intense. It came to my mind that SM can be very different depending on culture and country. It’s very interesting.
Sensei had another performance coming up, so I got changed and returned to my seat. Everyone’s eyes were on me, I could feel it. I guess people were thinking: ‘She’s so delicate, I wonder where her power comes from’. Because I’m so delicate, the power is condensed – if I could speak Dutch, I would have wanted to tell them that.
Next up was a tall and cool dominatrix and her slave. Her slave had genital piercings and weights on them. Surprisingly, she was defiant; it was a bit scary. When it hurt, she would stomp her feet and glare. I don’t think I would react in a such rebellious way even if it hurt, and still smile at the beginning and the end of it. Usually when I watch other people’s play, I become emotional, but this time I was just calmly observing. There is probably a type of SM suited for Westerners and a type of SM suited for Asian people. It’s not exclusive, but enjoying the differences might be fun. I do like the Japanese SM though.
Lastly, it was Akechi-sensei and a Dutch woman. In poor English, I asked her how she felt.
‘I’m really nervous’, she answered stiffly. Maybe she felt it was scary, like the audience had? I tried consoling her, saying Sensei is very gentle, and that the previous session was so intense only because I was used to it. I wonder if she understood it.
As expected, Sensei tied her up with care. She was calm and let her body go with the flow. She was a bit dumbfounded when he suspended her mid-air, but she seemed to really enjoy it.
I asked about her thoughts after the show. ‘As a matter of fact, I’ve been bound up by a Japanese person before, and that time it was painful. Today it was like I was gently embraced.’
We had come to DOMA in the afternoon, and as we left it was only nine o’ clock in the evening, and still bright outside. We had fun together and talked about our experiences as we had Indonesian food and went to a casino afterwards.
I wonder what tomorrow has in mind for me.
This text has been translated by rish, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks.