And kanji with manga
Thursday, February 1, 2018

shibari 縛り

In Japanese, shibari 縛り means "binding" or "tying," and may refer to some sort of "restraint," "binding," or "tie." It's the noun form of the verb shibaru 縛る, which means "to bind" or "to tie up."

Valentine chocolates bound by rope.
Anime: Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan, 撲殺天使ドクロちゃん (Season 2) (Episode 2)

Meaning

Literally, shibari refers to the act of binding or tying something up, or refers to the binding itself. This could be a physical restraint that binds something, or something like a promise or contract that restricts what they can do.

  • te-ashi wo shibaru
    手足を縛る
    To tie up [someone's] arms and legs.
    To bind [someone's] limbs.
    • kousoku suru
      拘束する
      To restrain [someone].
  • keiyaku ni shibararete-iru
    契約縛られている
    To be bound to the contract.
    (passive voice, ~te-iru ~ている form.)
    • yakusoku suru
      約束する
      To promise.
    • kinshi
      禁止
      Forbidden.
    • kinjiru
      禁じる
      To forbid.
    • fuin suru
      封印する
      To seal. (a power, a demon, etc.)

The verb shibaru only means "to tie" in the sense of tying up people or things to restrain them. If you're tying up something onto itself, the verb used is "to link," musubu 結ぶ.

  • kutsu-himo wo musubu
    靴紐を結ぶ
    To link the shoe-string.
    To tie one's shoes, by linking the shoe-string with itself.
  • nekutie wo musubu
    ネクタイを結ぶ
    To link the necktie.
    To tie the necktie.

Rope Bondage

In English, the term shibari normally refers to rope bondage. This term is used in real-life BDSM and pornography, but also within the anime-fandom discussing hentai pornography.

  • shibari-purei
    縛りプレイ
    A shibari "play," with "play" in the sense of SM play.
  • nawa de shibaru
    縛る
    To bind with rope.
  • nawa de shibararete-iru
    縄で縛られている
    To be bound with rope.
Example of rope bondage, also called shibari 縛り.
Anime: Ishuzoku Reviewers, 異種族レビュアーズ (Episode 8)

As far as the verb shibaru is concerned, you can tie someone up with any rope-like thing, not exclusively rope. Common situations in anime include:

  • kusari

    Chains.
  • shokushu
    触手
    Tentacles.
  • kumo no ito
    蜘蛛の糸
    A spider's thread.
  • ribon
    リボン
    Ribbon.
  • waiyaa
    ワイヤー
    Wire.

If a character is restrained by being wrapped by something thick into a burrito, that's called sumaki 簀巻き instead.

In anime, some characters often try to restrain other characters or end up restrained as a joke. This is sometimes ingrained in the personality of a character.

買っちゃった ホームセンターで 麻縄!! SMっていったら縄だろッ! 縄つったらSMッ!! つつ 次はこっ これでナナを・・・ し・・・ しばって ムフ♡ムフフフフフフフフッ♡ うひひひッ♡うひひっ♡ 痛ッででで そう・・・なんだよな
Manga: Nana to Kaoru ナナとカオル (Chapter 7, ロープをしごけ!!)
  • kacchatta, hoomu sentaa de, asanawa!!
  • 買っちゃった ホームセンターで 麻縄!!
    [I] bought [it], at the hardware store, hemp rope!!
  • esu-emu tte ittara nawa daro'!
    SMっていったら縄だろッ!
    [If you say SM, you think of rope, right!]
  • nawa tsuttara esu-emu!!
    縄つったらSMッ!!
    If you say rope, SM!!
  • tsu tsu tsugi wa ko' kore de Nana wo... shi... shibatte
    つつ 次はこっ これでナナを・・・ し・・・ しばって
    N-n-next time, [I] will use t-this to... t-tie... Nana up.
  • mufu♡ mufufufufufufufufu'♡
    uhihihi'♡ uhihi'♡

    ムフ♡ムフフフフフフフフッ♡
    うひひひッ♡うひひっ♡
    *unintelligible noises*
    • haa haa
      ハァーハァー
      *panting in the background.*
  • iddedede
    痛ッででで
    (very painful orthography.)
    • itai
      痛い
      Painful.
      [It] hurts.
  • sou... nanda yo na
    そう・・・なんだよな
    [Oh... that's right.]
    • According to the manga, hemp rope isn't meant to tie people up, and Kaeru カエル needs to boil the rope, among other things, to make it suitable for use.

vs. Kinbaku 緊縛

The term kinbaku 緊縛, meaning "binding tightly," is similar to shibari in SM.

The difference between shibari and kinbaku is that kinbaku typically refers to the practice of tying someone up in a way they can barely move, while shibari refers to the "tie" used to tie them up, i.e. how the rope is tying the person, the position of the knots, etc.

  • shimaru
    緊まる
    (For something wrapped) to tighten.
  • kinbaku-purei
    緊縛プレイ
    Tightly-binding play.
  • kinbaku-shi
    緊縛師
    A kinbaku master. Known as a "rigger" in English. A person with expertise in how to tie people up.
緊縛のぬいぐるみ
Anime: Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 (Episode 4)
  • kinbaku no nuigurumi
    緊縛のぬいぐるみ
    Tightly bound stuffed toy.

In Gaming

In gaming, sometimes a player completes a game once and goes play it again, but feels like it's too easy the second time, so, for added challenge, they impose on themselves restrictions like:

  • Beating the boss without getting hit.
  • Not using a powerful skill or item.
  • Not saving, completing the game in one run without dying.

And so on.

In Japanese, this is called[縛りプレイ - atwiki.jp, accessed 2021-02-21]:

  • shibari-purei
    縛りプレイ
    A shibari "play," in the sense of a game play.

Note that shibari-purei ends up with two meanings: the SM play meaning, and the gaming play meaning, so it's possible some series out there may make a wordplay on this.

練達者の神殿 釘と殻の神を求めよ 拘束 釘 殻 チャーム ソウル 開始 出る 決定
Game: Hollow Knight, ホロウナイト (Area: Godhome)
  • Context: In Hollow Knight, there's an area called Godhome in which you can play against multiple bosses one after the other, i.e. it's a boss rush mode. You have the option to enable restraints to weaken yourself for added challenge.
  • rentatsu-sha no shinden
    練達者の神殿
    Temple of the Expert. (literally.)
    Pantheon of the Master. (original English version.)
  • kugi to kara no kami wo motome yo
    殻の神求め
    Seek the gods of nail and shell.
  • kousoku
    拘束
    Restraints. (chains, in this case, as the enabled restraints are struck through with binding chains.)
  • kugi

    Nail. (decreases attack power.)
  • kara

    Shell. (decreases max HP.)
  • chaamu
    チャーム
    Charm. (disables extra abilities.)
  • souru
    ソウル
    Soul. (decreases max MP.)
  • kaishi
    開始
    Begin.
  • deru
    出る
    Exit.
  • kettei
    決定
    Confirm.

Types of Ties

Practitioners of shibari, in the rope bondage sense, have developed all sort of patterns of "ties," or "rope bindings," enough to write whole books on the subject. Some of these ties have names, so, for the sake reference, I'll list the names of some common shibari bindings here.

Jiroumaru Tarou 次郎丸太郎 reads a book on shibari 縛り, i.e. rope bondage.
Anime: Hanasaku Iroha 花咲くいろは (Episode 3)
  • Context: Jiroumaru Tarou 次郎丸太郎 tries to learn a new skill.
  • shibari hyakusen
    縛り百選
    Top one-hundred ties.

Although the terms for shibari ties may sound fancy and exotic to some, they're literally called as-is in Japanese, by what they look like.

As a consequence, the terms aren't very exact. A single tie can have multiple variations. And, also, some ties are only about legs while others only about arms, so you can be tied with two different "ties" at once.

  • kikkou shibari
    亀甲縛り
    Turtle-shell tie. Which has hexagon shapes.
  • hishi nawa shibari, hishi shibari, or hishi-gata shibari
    菱縄縛り, 菱縛り, 菱形縛り
    Diamond rope tie, diamond tie, diamond shape tie. Which has diamond shapes instead of hexagons.
  • kani shibari
    蟹縛り
    Crab tie. Which binds the left wrist and elbow to the left ankle and calf, and does the same to the right side, so that the person bound is hunching forward.
  • agura shibari
    胡座縛り
    Crossed legs tie. Which binds the legs together in front of the person.
Kinutsugai Ririko 絹番莉々子, example of emu-ji-kaikyaku M字開脚 pose: opening one's legs like the letter M.
Character: Kinutsugai Ririko 絹番莉々子
Anime: Hisone to Maso-tan ひそねとまそたん (Episode 5)
  • emu-jii kaikyaku shibari
    M字開脚縛り
    Letter M open-legs tie. Which keeps the legs spread open and knees bent, forming the letter M from one foot to the other.
    (katakanized letter.)
  • mata-nawa shibari
    股縄縛り
    Crotch rope tie. Which ties a rope belt around the waist, with a rope wrapping around the crotch.
  • ippon shibari
    一本縛り
    Single-strand tie. Which binds both legs together into a single mermaid-like leg. Alternatively, binding both arms together instead.
    • ~hon ~本 is a counter for cylindrical objects, including limbs. "Two" legs is ni-hon 二本 because they're two cylinder-shaped objects. If they were merged together into a single cylinder, they would become ippon 一本.
Hinata Himawari 日向ひまわり, example of gote takate kote shibari 後手高手小手縛り, "hands-behind upper-arm and forearm tie."
Character: Hinata Himawari 日向ひまわり
Anime: Himawari! ひまわりっ! (Episode 13, Stitch, Cropped)
  • takate-kote shibari
    高手小手縛り
    High-hand small-hand tie. (literally.)
    Upper-arm and forearm tie. Which binds BOTH the arm (takate) and forearm (kote), typically behind one's back with a rope that comes down from the neck wrapping around biceps and wrists.
    • Also known as a "box tie" in English.
  • shitate-kote shibari
    下手小手縛り
    Down-hand small-hand tie.
    Hands-down forearm tie. Which binds the forearms together downwards.
  • gote shibari, or ushiro-te shibari
    後手縛り
    Hands-behind tie. Any tie that binds arms behind the person's back.
    • Also known as box tie in English.
  • mae-te shibari
    前手縛り
    Hands-forward tie. Any tie that binds arms in front of the person.
  • kata-te shibari
    片手縛り
    Single-hand tie. Any tie that only binds one hand, instead of both, e.g. kata-te ushiro-te is one arm behind.
  • haimen gasshou shibari
    背面合掌縛り
    Back met-hands tie. A tie with the hands behind back, palms pressed against each other, as if they were praying.
  • teppou shibari
    鉄砲縛り
    Gun tie. A tie with both hands behind back forming a diagonal, one wrapping around the waist, the other coming from above the shoulder. Presumably the name comes the idea of a gun, like a rifle, strapped on your back, and the hands forming a similar shape.
  • te-age shibari
    手上げ縛り
    Hands-up tie. A tie with both hands behind back coming from above the shoulders.
Kaminari Ai 上成愛, example of shibari 縛り.
Character: Kaminari Ai 上成愛
Anime: Yatterman, Yattāman ヤッターマン (Episode 38)
  • tsuri
    吊り
    Hoisting. When the rope is connected to the ceiling, pulling something up..
  • chuu-dzuri
    宙吊り
    Mid-air hoisting. When the person is suspended by rope.
  • bubun-dzuri
    部分釣り
    Part hoisting. When only a body part, like a leg or arm, is suspended, and the rest of the body touches the ground.
  • sakasa-dzuri
    逆さ釣り
    Upside-down hoisting. When someone is pulled up by their feet.

Tortoise Shell Bondage

The "tortoise shell binding," or kikkou shibari 亀甲縛り, is the single most popular type of shibari tie, featured even in anime targeted at general audiences. It has a distinctive pattern that's easily recognizable even for people who don't know anything about bondage.

It's the manji-gatame 卍固め of the shibari world.

However, there's one little problem: what most people THINK is the tortoise shell binding, ISN'T the tortoise shell binding, but something extremely similar instead.

Now, normally nobody would care, but this being a blog about Japanese words, allow me to be pedantic about what words mean.

This is what a genuine kikkou shibari looks like:

Arisa Ahokainen 有紗・アホカイネン, example of turtle-shell bondage, kikkou shibari 亀甲縛り.
Character: Arisa Ahokainen 有紗・アホカイネン
Anime: Akiba's Trip The Animation (Episode 6, Stitch, Cropped)

Observe that the rope forms two hexagonal shapes. Why hexagons? Because a tortoise's shell has a hexagonal pattern in it. Why does a tortoise shell have a hexagonal pattern in it?

Because hexagons... are the bestagons.

The point is that this is only called tortoise shell bondage because of the bestagons. Tortoise shells have bestagons, this shibari tie has bestagons, so this is the best tie, I mean, this is a tortoise shell tie.

But, normally, unfortunately, to my great sadness, what's called and known as tortoise shell bondage is instead this aberration of geometry:

Papi パピ, example of diamond-shaped rope bondage, hishi shibari 菱縛り.
Character: Papi パピ
Anime: Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, モンスター娘のいる日常 (Episode 10, Cropped, Stitch)

Look at this. Those are diamonds. Four sides. Four. Not bestagons with six sides.

The term for this tie would instead be:

  • hishi nawa shibari
    菱縄縛り
    Diamond rope binding.
    • hishi

      Water caltrop. It's diamond-shaped, so it also refers to a diamond shape.
      • mitsubishi
        三菱
        Three diamond-shapes. (literally what Mitsubishi's logo looks like.)
    • daiyamondo
      ダイヤモンド
      Diamond. (as in the gem.)

In parts of the English shibari community, the hishi-nawa shibari is even called a "hishi karada" or even just a "karada" instead. The word karada 体 means "body," and it's not the name of any shibari pattern at all.

I realized that's the naming that The Duchy uses, but it's very incorrect.[NSFW: some reddit user - reddit.com/r/shibari/]

The obvious reason why the bestagon shibari is reduced to this lesser quadrilateral version is because it's simpler, and therefore easier, to pull the central ropes only once to the side instead of doing so twice.

I'm actually a bit disappointed, you know, because too many examples I thought I had I found of tortoise shell bondage in anime turned out to be this quadrilateral ripoff. Observe:

Sarutobi Ayame 猿飛あやめ dressed as a nurse, example of diamond-shaped rope binding, hishi-nawa shibari 菱縄縛り.
Character: Sarutobi Ayame 猿飛あやめ; Sacchan さっちゃん
Anime: Gintama 銀魂 (Episode 67)
  • This is hishinawa shibari.
Shidare Hotaru 枝垂ほたる, example of diamond-shaped rope bondage, hishi-nawa shibari 菱縄縛り.
Character: Shidare Hotaru 枝垂ほたる
Anime: Dagashikashi だがしかし (Episode 12, Stitch)
  • This is hishinawa shibari.
A box of cigarettes bind with hishi-nawa shibari 菱縄縛り.
Anime: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru 風が強く吹いている (Episode 8)
  • This is how you stop smoking.

A more NSFW example:

See, none of these are kikkou shibari, they're all hishinawa shibari for some reason. I'd wager the fake tortoise shell is even more common than the genuine tortoise shell, which kind of sounds like someone flooded the market with fake ones to save the turtles or something.

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