Being ‘Bakushi’ (2020)

It’s winter in Tokyo, and almost exactly ten years since I first came here to study bondage. One of my most notable teachers at that time was Yukinaga Max in Copenhagen and his partner Tina, and they taught me the way of Yukimura Haruki (who died 2016). Yukimura was famous for “unlocking the eros of a thousand woman”. Since I never met him, my relationship with him is that of a myth, and maybe that makes his influence on me ever stronger. I was told that he rarely tied people that he knew, or had relationships with, but always was curious about new people. One reason could be that he worked in the pornographic industry that has many girls and a few guys. And another, that he was famous so women would seek him out to open up their dark, forbidden eros. He was Bakushi.

Coming back to Japan, I’m curious about my involvement in rope bondage, and it isn’t straightforward. I want to understand a forest, but what I encounter are the trees. So I practice Ikebana (the way of arranging flowers), drink a lot of tea in old houses, and dig around in book shops and flea markets for vintage Japanese erotica. One evening I had the chance to meet with an icon of the Tokyo underground scene who also studied with Yukimura. His alias is Nuit de Tokyo (NdT), and we talked about rope. Our exchange centred around the question – whos eros is in the centre. As a person holding the rope, I (very practically) have more power to influence how a meeting unfolds. I also likely have more experience because I work with eroticism professionally. Therefore my eros has the potential to be very strong, but as soon as I fall for my eros, then I have lost – argues NdT. What is interesting is unlocking the eros of your partner, and that is what a Bakushi do.

I remember a summer night around the bonfire at Ängsbacka chatting to Betty Martin about offering rope session as a profession. Many people dream about being dominated so that they can let go of control and surrender. And as a professional, I can not allow my eros to take space, even if that is the role play that my client desires to act out, because I’m paid to hold space for them. In one way, the money makes it more clear. Otherwise, it falls back into some Orwellian idea from Animal Farm (1945) that “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” – Anyhow, I think it comes down to being clear about what is in focus, and what the exchange is. So perhaps being Bakushi, is then helping another’s eros to unfold, and maybe there is money involved, or not.

In my private life, often meet people that want to experience my eros. I’m grateful for this because I’m also curious about it. But often ask myself, what drives people to outspokenly wishing to be the product, or object in my eros. I find different reasons – a simple one is to learn from someone with a different experience. Another more complicated one is that – in our high-phased and ego-focused society, there is a coping-mechanism to look for more-and-more stimuli and to objectify ourselves. I always remember coming back after a 10-day retreat in solitude, and walking down a typical Stockholm street feels like navigating in a raging storm. But a few days later, city life is once again the norm. Relatively I numbed myself, so now I need something more to feel.

Similarly, I also identify with icons to make life easier to navigate. For example, I’m a yogi, so I do yoga three times a week – no need to evaluate that every day. The same pattern can also manifest in the eros. For example, I want to be a sex slave to follow my mistress, or a table or a dog – this can be very peaceful because I no longer have to take responsibility and be somebody. The ego screams, you have to show yourself, and prove yourself! Objectifying oneself is changing the subject to something or someone else. Possibly even to the point that one forgets about oneself. Sometimes I met people that claim that they have no fantasies or dreams, and perhaps no eros. Then I wonder if this is the case, that they forgot about themselves. So being Bakushi, is maybe changing a forgotten object into the subject again.

Here I could write a long passage about rope bondage and shame because that relates strongly to being the subject – but I’m not going to as it’s already written here

As a background on the word Bakushi, it is a shortening of Kinbaku-shi, referring, with honour, to someone that practices Kinbaku. So it’s a bit strange to call oneself Bakushi. I believe it stands in contrast to Nawashi – some being skilled with ropes (nawa) – in the same way, that Kinbaku usually refers to the relationship between two people doing bondage., while shibari being more of the act of tying rope.

So am I Bakushi? Maybe sometimes, definitely when someone pays me, then I try my best to be. At other times I just want to be a kid that focuses on my eros – luckily I can do both, and perhaps that makes me into an actual switch.