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WTF is Shibari?

Get to know the seductive and kinky art of Japanese rope bondage and an exciting way to explore the world of BDSM - Shibari.

Photo: Anna55555 via Shutterstock

Known as a form of rope bondage, Shibari is an ancient and seductive art that hails from Japan. It’s a type of kinky BDSM sexual shadow play that possesses considerable erotic nostalgia and carnal inspiration that is largely (and historically) dependent on nonconsensual incarceration.

Now, don’t be turned off by those last two words. Ultimately, that part of the mix is only present because Shibari is featured in Japanese fables that usually involve a captured maiden or a jailed hero.

For the sake of this article, Shibari is a type of sexual bondage enjoyed by consenting adults who want to spice up their sex lives.

Casting v. Receiving: The Roles of Shibari

Before we dive deeper into the world of Shibari, let’s get some basic terminology out of the way.

The person who is tying the ropes is doing the casting, and the person who is getting the rope placed on their body is receiving. The person casting is the dominant, and the person receiving is the submissive. Shibari can be done with clothes on or naked.

There are many erotic pleasures that both parties get out of Shibari—and this type of bondage sex fulfills many fantasies.

The caster may enjoy…

  • Being the “baddie” in a naughty role-play
  • Controlling their partner’s pleasure and being in charge of when and if they cum
  • Enabling the safe exploration of shadow sexual desires
  • Fucking their partner in new and previously untried sex positions
  • Experiencing feelings of exhilaration and new emotional connectedness

The receiver may enjoy…

  • Letting go of all physical or emotional control at the hands of their partner
  • The feeling of the rope and different levels of tightness and restraint
  • Feeling “ravished” as they take on the role of the “weak one” in role play
  • New sex positions and being touched, kissed, and fucked while supported by the ropes
  • Enhanced sexual perceptions and having no control over orgasms

Tanisha, 39, became interested in Shibari after engaging in some light bondage and restraint with her boyfriend. “In my professional life, I’m a corporate lawyer and I have to be a bad bitch day in and day out in order to earn the respect of my colleagues, who are mostly men.”

While she and her boyfriend originally started exploring bondage sex by using scarves, neckties, and handcuffs, Tanisha quikcly found her tastes evolving.  She discovered that she enjoyed being in the role of submissive.  The couple ended up exploring other forms of bondage and spent time investigating Shibari. 

“I found I really like the rope play. I like it when my partner ties my arms behind my head and puts me in a chest harness. Dominating me and using sex toys really adds to the experience. It’s very hot and very freeing to not be in charge. Of course, we really studied up on this before introducing it to our bedroom. Being safe is important.” 

How to Get Started with Shibari

The two basic components for Shibari sex bondage are ropes and safety scissors. Yes, some Shibari gear can be really fancy and complex, but it’s recommended you work up to that level as you explore what you enjoy, what pleasures you, and what gets you off.

Experts recommend starting with soft cotton Shibari rope for hot and easy sex play. It won’t irritate the skin, it holds knots well, and it will be easy to wash after hot and potentially messy fucking.

Shibari Will Spice Up Your Sex Life

Shibari is truly a unique way to introduce bondage to fucking. So, if you want to enjoy it as much as possible, consider these tips:

  • Only use high-quality ropes and communicate on what is acceptable play and what is off-limits.
  • Have safety scissors close by and accessible at all times in case of emergency.
  • Only proceed with erotic bondage play after you study how to tie ropes and how to position your partner’s body.
  • Remember to be gentle with your partner’s body—Shibari is about sexual pleasure, not necessarily pain or punishment.
  • Use sex toys like vibrators, dildos, and butt plugs to stimulate your partner and control how they cum.
  • Come up with a safe word to use if sex play starts to go in the wrong direction or if discomfort is experienced.
  •  As a caster, study up on body anatomy to know where the main nerve paths and veins are. This ensures proper rope placement and helps avoid compression, asphyxiation, circulation issues, or other harmful effects. Understand the risks that you are taking on and the potential for lethal consequences if mistakes are made.

How to Learn More About Shibari

There are a variety of Shibari resources available online (we recommend the Shibari Academy) to learn how to perform this type of sexual bondage correctly and safely. Additionally, we encourage you to watch BDSM porn and other kinky content to understand what Shibari looks like when the caster and receiver are experienced in this sexual art form.

Just remember, communication, trust, consent, and safety are all as equally as important as cumming when engaged in Shibari sex bondage.

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