Intro to Shibari, Japanese Rope Bondage

If you were intrigued by our bondage for beginners post then you’re in for a treat! Shibari is an artistic, beautiful, and intimate style of rope bondage that spouses can enjoy when they have a significant amount of time available to invest in a sexual encounter. A quick warning, which may be obvious: if you Google many of the terms in this post you’re likely to see images with nudity. However, it is possible to learn about shibari without seeing all that, and I’m going to link to a few resources that I found to be safe.

(Sexy Corte and I debated over whether or not showing nude mannequins and drawings is acceptable, and we decided yes. Educational resources frequently use drawings or icons to convey sexual information while avoiding naked human flesh, and we think it’s approriate. Shibari is a very visual art, and it would be impossible to describe without any images. If the images bother you, we apologize.)

First of all, I should point out that I’m not an expert on shibari. I’m going to attempt to use the correct terminology and give some tips for how Sexy Corte and I got started, but this is all pretty new to us. Second, make sure you read about basic bondage safety — I can’t cover all that here.

So, why would you want to try Japanese rope bondage?

  • Beautiful body art. Creating a work of art on you or your spouse’s body is great fun and very empowering. Your bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, and shibari gives you a new way to enjoy their beauty and sexuality.
  • Intimate. Performing the ties takes time, close attention to detail, cooperation, communication, and lots of touching. The spouse being tied doesn’t just stand immobile — the whole process requires (naked!) collaboration. A shibari session can hit every love language: plenty of physical touch, an investment of quality time, service through tying and being tied, words affirming beauty and skill, and even giving of gifts in the form of materials. You and your spouse can emphasize whatever aspects best fit your languages.
  • Simple. Ok, some of the art pieces you may see online are not simple, but the basic techniques are easy to learn and build from. The materials you need to get started (see below) are inexpensive and easily available.
  • Power dynamic. As with most bondage, the dynamic of domination and submission can be as big or small an element as you desire, both during the tying and after. The basic shibari ties (see below) don’t necessarily restrain the movement of the spouse being tied, but they can form the foundation for restraining ties if desired.
  • Creative. The image at the top of the post comes from 18Seiben’s Deviant Art gallery, and he has tons of other safe images to inspire you. There’s really no limit to the designs and patterns you can create, even with very simple techniques. Once you grasp the basics, it isn’t hard to look at a single image and consider how you might create something similar.

shibari gallery

The materials required to get started are minimal. First, of course, is rope.

  • “Shibari rope”. You can find “shibari rope” online that’s extremely expensive and unnecessary; don’t buy it. You can get great rope at your local home improvement store for only a few dollars. Shibari purists seem to prefer natural hemp rope, but we’ve gotten along fine with nylon and MFP (cheaper and less scratchy).
  • Default length and thickness. To get started, buy a few pieces of rope that are 1/4-inch thick and 25 feet long. Length and thickness will eventually depend on the ties you plan to do.
  • Longer. We also have a 50-foot rope — longer ropes can be useful for some designs, but are harder to work with because you have to pull all that length through, over and over.
  • Shorter. Shorter ropes can be useful for more advanced techniques like single- or double-column ties.
  • Thicker. Some 3/8-inch thick rope can also be useful for ties that actually bear weight (greater width means the rope doesn’t bite into skin as much), but it’s harder to knot.

Additional supplies:

  • Safety scissors. Just in case you need to cut free immediately. Medical safety scissors have blunt tips that make it easy to cut rope without poking skin.
  • Relaxing music. Unlike most of your sex music, shibari really lends itself to a peaceful soundtrack. Think classical. Maybe Sexy Corte can offer some suggestions later.

Ok, so you’ve got your supplies and you’re ready to get started! Now what? The first tie we did is a simple breast harness called a shinju, which means “binding the pearls”. The term can refer to many different styles of breast bindings, which generally turn out something like this.

shinju manniquin

Here’s a three-minute video that will walk you through a simple shinju.

The shinju is a lot of fun and really highlights the wife’s breasts! Once you’ve completed the tie, we recommend progressing to a face-to-face sexual position with the wife upright so as to best enjoy her breasts, such as cowgirl or sex on a chair. The shinju can also serve as the foundation for a variety of arm restraints, like this.

arm-binding

After the shinju, you can move on to a full body harness called a karada, which means “binding the body”. As with the shinju, there are many ways to create a karada, and 18Seiben’s gallery will give you a taste. Here’s video that shows one simple karada.

And here’s an image of a karada that illustrates the process (click for full-size).

how to tie karada

These two ties are about as far as we’ve gotten ourselves, but we’ve got a million ideas we’d still like to try. For example, both the shinju and karada can be worn secretly under winter clothes! Once you know the basics it’s easy to visualize how to create more intricate ties, and working through the trial-and-error of achieving your vision is extremely intimate. Our next “advanced” project will be a rope corset.

shibari rope corset

Finally, some resources:

  • The Duchy has rope bondage guides that show no skin or sexual content
  • BDSMGeek’s YouTube playlist of safe shibari tutorials, also with no nudity

If you’ve ever done any rope bondage with your spouse, or are interested in trying, leave a comment!

6 comments

    1. Thanks for sharing, I hadn’t thought of that!

      Do you think you’d be ok if your limbs weren’t restrained at all? The basic shinju and karada surround the torso but don’t restrict movement.

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