Exploring the Garden of Love (Sasatsu Koiniwa), published by Mayway Publishing in 2007 is Kaname Ozuma’s celebration of kinbaku, which means ‘tight tying’, using traditional three-strand jute rope called asanawa, Japanese for ‘hemp rope’.
Kinbaku uses rope to tie and restrain the body for the purpose of erotic pleasure. Seasoned kinbaku masters, known as bakushi, say the art takes years to master and is difficult to find in the world of mass produced pornography.
During the Edo period, from around 1600 to 1860, rope was used as both restraint and punishment. Certain techniques were developed, including some which continue to be used today like the ‘shrimp tie’, but bondage as a sexual art was not widespread in Japan until the early 1900s. At that time kabuki theatre began to stylise this torture bondage, known as hojojutsu, and add it to their acts. Hojojutsu needed to be toned down both for safety’s sake and so that it was visually appealing to the audience while remaining socially acceptable, which left the door open to Kaname Ozuma’s art to create fantasy scenes of rope torture.
As anyone who has explored Japanese erotic art and pornography will know, the Japanese censors have a strange attitude to the inclusion of genitals, which explains why, depending on the audience, Kaname’s naked women sometimes sport wonderful forests of pubic hair, while at other times are allowed only the vaguest suggestion of vulvic charms. It all depends on who commissioned the piece.