Compiled by Nawashi Tatu

Aug 1999

(revised May 2005)

Many years ago when I first started to put together a glossary of terms for those who work with Japanese Rope Art, it was simply a practical guide for understanding. Then I saw my work being copied all over the internet and realized how important this project really is to the worldwide Rope Art community.

So in 2005 I took a fresh look at all of these terms, to see if I could not only update but also discover the etymology or origins of these terms and document it if I could. This proved to be a much more difficult task as there is a lot of mythology floating around the internet thanks to the commercial profiteers wishing to romanticize the Japanese Bondage world I suppose to make their product more attractive to sell.

Japanese words are written with a complex system of symbols called "kana" denoting certain phonetic sounds. This is a "Romanized" writing (the Hepburn system) of Japanese words as they sound when spoken:

A word on western spelling of Japanese words. Remember that the Japanese language is a "character language". There is no exact way to transliterate those sounds. So don't get too hung up on how we in the west are spelling those sounds, it's not that important.

This is still a work in progress and as I attempt to source many of these terms, especially those associated with Japanese Rope.  If you feel feel I have made a grave error, please contact me and give me any better information you may have.    Email:   Tatu @ ds - arts . com


Kanji for "Kata", which means form.  Used in martial arts to refer to a basic form. This symbol will be placed next to tying forms.


agura shibari -  a Japanese bondage form referring to being tied in a cross legged position with the body in an upright position.

aomuki shibari - face up suspension

arigato - thank you

asa - hemp

asanawa - hemp rope used in traditional Japanese Bondage.
(asa = hemp, nawa = rope)


bari - a term shortened from the word "shibari" (to weave or tie)


chikubi - nipple

chitsu - vagina


do-itashi mash-te -  "you're welcome" (response to thank you). more accurately. "my pleasure, don't mention it" or "no, thank YOU, the pleasure was all mine"

dojo - place for practice or tournament (martial arts)

dorei -  slave. It has been put forth that rope captives are called "dorei", (denoting slave) this is too strong of a term for most in Japan. "Dorei" comes from a Greek word to denote ancient eastern European slavery. Slave play in Japan is actually really rare, and is actually to harsh a term for most "rope submissives" to be comfortable with.

dorei no jotai - condition of being a slave


ebi - means "shrimp".  the term ebi is used in what is called a shrimp tie or in ancient hojojutsu it was referred to as the "prawn" position. It was the 3rd step in approved torture techniques as per the Tokugaza rule in ancient Japan.  The subject is bound in a cross-legged sitting position and their chest and head are folded over and bound to the legs.  This became excruciating in time, creating a burning sensation in the spine radiating throughout the body.

ebizeme - the act of being tortured in the ebi position.

Edo Period  -  1603 to 1867.  Following the death of Hideyoshi in 1598, Tokugawa Leyasu, embarked upon a campaign to rule all of Japan. In 1600 Leyasu defeated Hideyori's followers in the battle of Sekigahara.  In 1603 the Emperor appointed Leyasu Shogun and Leyasu set up his Tokagawa government in Edo, which is now known as Tokyo. His Tokagawa Shoguns ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1867. With the Russians and Commodore Perry in 1853 forcing the Tokugawa rulers to open up for international trade the EDo period came to and end with the Meiji restoration in 1868.



gyaku-ebi - a reverse shrimp tie. with subject in a takate kote chest tie who is then placed on her stomach and then her ankles are bound and pulled to her buttocks and secured at the back of the chest harness. Some call this the "Japanese Hog Tie".

gyaku-ebi tsuri - suspended in the face down Japanese Hog tie position.

gakko - school

gei - art of craft, artistic skill or technique

gei-ba     -  gay bar

geisha -  artist, one skilled in the art of entertaining and pleasure


hai - yes

hashira ushirodaki - bondage to a pole / bamboo

hishigata - diamond shaped;  

hishi refers to any diamond shaped body weave such as the karada.

hojojutsu - Japanese martial art practiced among samurai from the 1600 to the end of the 1800 using rope to capture and restrain prisoners. It is from these techniques that modern kinbaku-bi or the erotic or artistic forms of bondage evolved beginning at the end of the 19th century.

Hon Kikkou - Kikkou literally means tortoise.  Hon Kikkou is a design style in fabric weaving. This term has been used incorrectly in a number of places on the internet and in print to refer to a body weave tie sometimes called a karada. It is not. Kikkou design has a special design found on the tortoise shell which is recreated with rope on the body. It is not a simple diamond body weave.  This form has been popularized by Japanese Rope Master Sikou Sima.  


Isu-jyo kohai  -  chair bondage

"Ito Seiyu (1882-1961) is arguably the most important figure in the history of Japanese bondage (shibari) and SM. Born during the last days of the Meiji Restoration, Ito, a painter, wood block print master, photographer and writer, provides the link between the ancient and the modern in Japan's fascination with sadomasochistic practices. As an artist he was extraordinary. As an inspiration to generations of Japan's greatest shibari masters he was unique."   (source quoted:


jo-osama - Japanese Mistresses dressed classic european fetish dress, such as latex, leather and PVC outfits . They are regarded as beautiful sexy goddess' who are paid well to dominate men and women in Japanese Mistress Bars.  

jujun - literally means, "obedient or obedient one" and refers to one who is submissive    (nawa junjun -rope submissive)


kana - Japanese Script   (kanji = Chinese characters)

karada - Japanese for "body". Refers to a basic full torso diamond shaped body weave, sometimes called rope dress.

kata-ashi tsuri - generally refers to a one-legged suspension

ki - center of spirit or soul (focus point in meditation)   (chi in chinese)

kikkou - literally means tortoise.  Hon Kikkou is a design style in fabric weaving. This term has been used incorrectly in a number of places on the internet and in print to refer to a body weave tie sometimes called a karada. It is not. Kikkou design has a special design found on the tortoise shell, which is recreated with rope on the body. It is not a simple diamond body weave.  - a website which began around 1995 from Japan orginally owned and produced by a Mr.Sekine, who then sold to "Chiba Sensei". It went offline for a few years in the late 90's until it was purchased by Osada Steve who took it live again.  It features the best known bondage tutorials from Japan, as taught by Japanese Bondage Masters Randa Mai and Sikou Sima.

kinbaku - The ancient Japanese Art of biding tightly with rope. It denotes a harsher form of restrain leading up the erotic forms  which would become known as "kinbaku-bi".

kinbaku-bi  - This word is from the late 19th century and describes the beauty and erotic aspects of rope bondage born from the ancient hojojutsu techniques of prisoner restraint.  -bi means beautiful

kiritsu -  a command to stand up from seiza position

kohai - anyone with less experience than you.

kômon - anus ;    komon means "advisor".  Notice the macron over the vowel "o" in kômon.  That means that the vowel sound is made longer about 1.7 times the normal length.  

kômon sarashi shibari - kômon = "anus",  sarssu = vb "to expose".  A shibari form taught by Randa Mai.  Which binds the subject in such a way as to spread the ass cheeks, exposing the anus.

According to Charles Johnson's essay, "The True Meaning of the Crane Emblem..." he writes , "Among the innovations perfected by the corrupted men of power at this time (early 1600's) was "nawa shibari", the immobilization of naked women by tying them with ropes, in subjugated positions. One famous position is called "Komon Sarashi Shibari", leaving the woman exposed for long periods of time. Time enough for an artist to be inspired to make an erotic painting."  

konnichi wa   -  hello     ( "moshi moshi" is greeting on telephone); also good afternoon.   (ohayo is good morning)

kotori - to fly as "little bird".  A generic term referring to any body harness basic to a rope suspension. The origin of the use of this term in Japanse Bondage is unknown

kotsu - torture, the act of inflicting severe pain

kotobu ryo-tekubi  -  a Japanese basic form or the binding of the wrists and positioning behind the neck

kukuro - to tie up together



m-jo  (m-o in case of a male sub)  -  This is the most widely accepted term in Japan today for the one captured in rope. Some just just refer to themselves as a "model" - Most rope captives think of themselves simply as "models".

matanawa - describes a crotch rope tied around the waist and down between the legs and buttocks.   mata = thigh, groin   and  nawa=rope

Meiji Restoration  -  (1867 - 1912)  When teh emperor moved from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) a new capital was established and the emperor's powers were restored from the Tokugawa Bakufu to a new group of former samurai.  Social classes disassembled. After a long period of isolationism, Japan grew to be an economic power with the west.  The samurai were totally disenfranchised.

meijin  - master in sense of a skilled person
  -  master (over a household)

momo - means "peach" and generally refers to a tie of the buttocks. "Momo Shibari" refers to a bondage tie with jujun in the kneeling position and the arms drawn between her legs and wrists bound to ankles.

-mi   suffix used usually with female name to mean beautiful

musubime - knot

musubu - to bind, tie a knot    


nai - no

nawa  - rope  also  "tsuna"

nawaikido (1) - a term coined by Nawashi Tatu to describe the way of love and harmony through the  rope bondage experience.  It is made up of the following Japanese terms:

nawa - rope

ai - love

ki - harmony, center of energy

do - the way

nawashi - one who works with rope, a rope practitioner. This is a modern term that came into use in the late 20th century. In the early 21st century the term has evolved into signifying something more as to mean a Master of Japanese bondage or shibari.

nawagei - rope art

nawa junjun - rope submissive

nawa Sensei - One who teaches the ARt of Rope

nawa-kesho - . A trendy modern word to refer to applying rope like a cosmetic art, made up of two Japanese words:  nawa=rope and kesho=makeup.


on nashujin -  mistress, in the sense of a female head   (note:  mekake - is mistress in sense of an extramarital partner)

oruganzumi - orgasm




rei - bow   also  "yu" means bow

ritsurei - standing bow

ryo-tekubi - refers to the binding of the wrists.  

ryo-ashi tsuri   -  refers to being suspended face down using a chest harness (ushiro takate kote), and supports at the hips, ankles and sometimes thighs.


sakasa tsuri - a vertical suspension with the feet up and head down, with the suspension point being from ankles and / or waist.

sakuranbu - Japanese for cherry. Used by some in Japanese Rope to refer to "tying up the cherry" (a euphemism for tying up the female bottom in such a way that emphasizes the cherry/ pussy / vagina area). One of the basic  ties of the 1st layer. Origin of this term is unknown.

Samurai (aka "bushi") were the military class. They first emerged during the Heian Period (794-1185).  With the Edo period which ushered in 250 years of peace, the importance of Samurai declined.  They used all kids of weapons, spears, bows and arrows, guns, but were most famous and feared for their ability with the sword.  They lived by a high ethical code known as "bushido", which means "the way of the warrior". Most were influenced by Confucius philosophy. The code was focused on loyalty to one's master, respect, and discipline.  In 1868 the samurai class was formerly abolished when the Edo feudalistic society ended.

-san   - suffix to a name denoting Mr. Mrs. Ms., an indication of respect.
Example:  Ms. Asami = asami-san
Good bye Ms. Asami =  Sayonara  asami-san

santen tsuri -  a rope suspension from the takate kote position with the subject's legs bound up underneath the torso as if she were sitting in a chair.

sayonara - good bye      (also  "bai bai")

seiza - correct sitting position. Kneeling, eyes closed, reflective of the lesson about to begin, or of the lesson just received.

sempai - elder student, one just under the sensei

sensei - teacher.   a respectful term used of instructors.

shiatsu - Japanese massage using finger pressure.

shibari - a modern term applied to the art of kinbaku.  First usage has been traced to about the 1950's by some of the Japanse bondage magazines.

shibariageru - to bind (tie) up

shibarikomu -  to bind together

shibaritai - A Rope Artist (nawashi) expressing the love of tying, specifically directed at a nawa jujun (rope submissive) or m-jo (rope model)

shibaritsukeru - to tie

shibaru / shibarimasu - To bind or tie / untie someone

shibaraaretai - A nawa jujun expressing the desire and love of being restrained.  "I want to be tied up"

shibari sensei - A modern word coined by Tatu in the late 1990's to describe a rope bondage master.  (Note: TAtu used the name "Shibari Sensei" on his internet email account for some years in the 90's.

shibatte - verb for "tie me"

shihai-teki   - dominant

shinju -   Japanese for "Pearls". Shinju is used to refer euphemistically to pearls = breast/nipples.  This refers to a tie of the chest / breast area, usually not including the arms.  The origin of this term is unknown.

sokubaku - Bondage


take - bamboo.  Bamboo is used in numerous ways in Japanese culture, including in bondage.  Bamboo is used in flutes, ladles, chopsticks, and window blinds, bows, arrows, and spears; as well as martial arrts, music, tea ceremony, and flower arranging.  

take shibari - Using bamboo in Japanese Bondage

tanuki - suspended face down by wrists and ankles with heavy rocks placed on the back. This with the 4th and final form of torture used in ancient Japanese torture techniques.  This is very dangerous and should not be attempted.

tanuki tsuri - "Tanuki" literally refers a "raccoon like animal indigenous to Japan.  "Tsuri" refers to suspension. This tie is to tie up the subject by wrists and then ankles in a face up bent at the position as taught by Mai Randi.

tomei nawa -  refers to the cinch rope under the armpits.

tsuri / tsurusu - suspend or hang up  /  nawa-tsuri = rope suspension  

**Note of interest - "tsuriai" means balance or harmony.

tsurinawa - suspension with rope

tsurizeme - the act of being suspended with rope.


ushirode - behind, to the rear.

ushirode gassho - this is a tie with the arms in a prayer position behind the back.

ushirode takate kote - this is the chest tie with the arms in the classic Japanese u-shape behind the back. Many Japanese bondage ties begin with this basic tie.





yoko tsuri  -  yoko literally translated means, "side".  This term refers to being suspended in a sideways position


zarei - bow from seated / kneeling position.

Shinju, Sakuranbo, Karada, and Kotori

There has been alot of confusion concerning certain terms that we use in the west to describe different ties that we observe Japanese nawashi performing.

Of note there are several terms that have been floating around on websites and in books referring to these terms.  So, I recently embarked on a journey to discover their roots.

I have seen these terms used in a number of places through the years, but I have been unable to discover their true origin as of this date. I first saw them on Tammad's website years ago, and then one or two of them in the book, "Screw The Roses". Later I saw them on a European commercial website.  Tammand has passed from us so I don't guess we will ever know where he got them from.

I made some contacts in Japan to inquire among the most well know performers in Tokyo, and honestly the response was interesting. These terms were met with laughter as their usage in Japan is unknown.

Shinju is the japanese word for "pearl", and it is used to describe a tie or chest harness of the chest and breasts.  It is used euphemistically of the breasts or nipples as pearls.

Sakuranbo  Sakuru is the term for "cherry" and is used to denote the bottom tie of the female waist and is euphemistically used to refer to the vagina.

Karada, is the Japanese word for "body". This term has been used to describe the body weave.

Kotori, is the word for bird, and bondagers have used it describe a chest harness used in face down suspension.

So where did these terms come from, if not the Japanese Bondagers? My guess are the imaginative people behind some of the Japanese Bondage commercial websites.

That said they are not bad terms to describe some of the things we do. In fact they are quite lovely terms. It is just a little disappointing to find out that they are not used in Japan. Some of them are quite romantic ways of using language and are probably why they have caught on so widely.

There are some terms used in Japanese culture of animals and birds  (also used in martial arts) that are being used to describe bondage ties. Such as:  Kani meaning crab, crane etc . As far as I can tell these animal names, etc for bondage positions are also unknown in Japan, but the product of western commercial bondage websites. 

Sources -

1  Tatu

2  Langenscheidt Japanese Dictionary (c) 1998

3  Dr. Richard Cleaver

4  Internet website:

5  Mai Randai

6  Sikou Sima

7  Master K

8  Dr. D. Vice

Also of great assistance are the many resources found at the Library at the Morikami Museum and Gardens.

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