Happy Birthday, Kinbakushi!

Happy Birthday Kinbakushi

Sixty is a difficult age. One the one hand, you’ve learned plenty, lived plenty, and enjoyed plenty; that’s good. On the other, you’ve seen too much, you’re tired and embittered, and you don’t feel strong enough for the things you used to do without getting tired. I had no idea many people would say to me: “Happy birthday kinbakushi”.

I was so confused about my upcoming birthday that I hadn’t even decided whether I wanted to celebrate it or not. I’m a kinbakushi, a rope artist, and everyone expects a performance from me, either a retrospective from my past achievements or the tackling of something completely new, to prove that I’m still capable of offering something valuable, instead of just repeating myself. 

There were also those who encouraged me to have a discrete, private celebration. I believe in loyalty, and I have worked with the same people for 20 years. My production team and my models are the same. I don’t care if they grow old, I’m growing old, too. For me, they are no longer my employees or my partners: they are my friends.

The Party (Happy birthday kinbakushi)

The night before my birthday, I went to the studio to clear my mind. I had just opened the door when I suddenly felt embraced and lifted from the floor. Next thing I know, I’m in the middle of the stage, and all the people I’ve worked with are around me, cheering me up. Wherever I look, there are pictures and videos of all the wonderful performances we’ve done through the years.

Then I feel something around my chest and I realize that all my bottoms, past and present, are tying me up. This time, I will be the bunny. At first, I think about how good their technique is—how they have learned from me, without me noticing it. But then, an extremely powerful emotional flow overwhelms me. I can feel their gratitude and their love going through the rope and entering my body. Moreover, I feel exhilarated. I almost faint with joy.

By the time it’s all over I’m exhausted, but happy. All I want is a cup of tea. This is the best birthday celebration I could possibly have. “Happy birthday kinbakushi” still sounds in my head.

This is my Shibari story.