Grandmaster Osada Eikichi (長田英吉) – 7 Years After

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Grandmaster Osada Eikichi (March 15, 1925 to September 12, 2001) passed away seven years ago on September 12, 2001. Technically speaking, with Japan being the Land of the Rising Sun, this coincides with 9-11, at least for our North American fans, making it a date easy to remember.

Dubbed the Flying Rope Man by the Tokyo Journal in 1999, the legendary Osada Eikichi is generally recognized as the fastest rope artist ever.

Here’s a short interview with Osada Steve about his sensei.

TieBreaker: When and how did you first meet Osada Eikichi?

Osada Steve: I first met Osada sensei in 1998, while producing a series of Tokyo Underground features for Tokyo Journal magazine.

TB: Why did it take you almost 20 years of living in Japan before finally linking up with the maestro?

OS: In pre-1998 Japan there was very little in terms of a “scene”. Most action was confined to expensive bars catering to the submissive male, with some occasional “secret” events targeting the dominant male. In the very early days an SM night out could easily cost you a thousand dollars.
Unless you had an inside track to a video producer or SM magazine publishers, you’d never get up close with the stars of the business. In those days you had to be either extremely wealthy or very well connected to get a live/public fix of Shibari/Kinbaku.

TB: Unless you went to a strip theater?

OS: That’s right. There were the expensive places for the elite, and then there were the reasonably priced theaters for the masses. If your Japanese were up to par you could find out from the vernacular press where Osada Eikichi would perform. And then, if they let you through the door, you could watch for a hundred bucks.

TB: So you first met Osada Eikichi in one of those “nude gekijo”?

OS: No, it was at the Bondage Bar (now defunct) at the edge of Kabukicho where Osada Eikichi gave special guest performances once a week. Interestingly enough, on that day I was also introduced to Mistress Rose Henderson who is now the mama-san at Sugar Heel in Roppongi. She’ll be performing at Sadistic Circus this Sunday.

TB: In order to get a leg up on Shibari, what did you have to do to learn the trade from your master?

OS: I learned my rope the hard way, the traditional way – by apprenticing in the sense of assisting, helping, observing, studying.

TB: Compared to other grandmasters, little is known about Osada Eikichi. Why is that?

OS: Osada sensei pioneered the Shibari/Kinbaku/SM live genre in Japan. He decided early on to focus his energies on public performances. As such he doesn’t leave behind a large body of works in terms of videos or photo series. On the other hand he continues to live on in the hearts of tens of thousands of fans who saw his live performances.
As far as English-language information about Osada Eikichi is concerned, there is an interview from 1999, and a general three-part feature on SM in Japan from 1998. The bondage in the photo on top of this post was done by Osada sensei, while entire galleries of Osada sensei’s work can be found on Asanawa.com. I have also extensively written about Osada sensei for Schlagzeilen magazine, the influential German-language SM periodical. Several of my “Letters From Tokyo” can be found here.

TB: How do you feel about being the successor of Osada Eikichi?

OS: I consider it my responsibility to keep the spirit of Osada Eikichi alive. As such, I will a) continue to endeavor that genuine information percolates to Shibari/Kinbaku-famished fans in the West, and b) keep touring Japan with my live performance acts.

TB: Isn’t there also Studio SIX ?

OS: From April, 2000, Osada Eikichi and I (and his former show partner) were running weekly show nights at my place (my photo studio) under the Osada Seminar moniker. It is here where I am conducting regular Kinbaku Live Nights to this day. However, these are relatively high-priced and very intense affairs, strictly targeting audiences that seek an unadulterated, no-barriers-hold experience.

TB: Isn’t Studio SIX also known as the Osada Kinbaku Dojo ?

OS: Studio SIX is a multi-purpose facility. It accommodates photo and video shoots, and also doubles as a dojo. Most people who come to Tokyo for intensive study of Osada-ryu will actually stay at the dojo to take full advantage of total-immersion Shibari/Kinbaku.

TB: What is Shichi-kai-ki ?

OS: In Japan the first, third, and seventh anniversaries of someone’s death hold special significance. Shichi-kai-ki is the term for such seventh anniversary. I will spend that day meditating and invoking the spirit of my sensei.

Osada_Eikichi

Portrait of Osada Eikichi taken in 2000 by Dr. D. Vice (now known as Osada Steve).

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8 Comments

  1. Osada-san,

    Thank you for your continued work in spreading Osada Eikichi’s teachings. I appreciate the effort that it takes for you to continue his work and look forward to seeing it continue to evolve!

    Wonderful article, as always.

    – LqqkOut

  2. Dear Steve dono,

    At this 7. th. year of Osada Eikichi’s death, please, allow my respects to late Osada Eikichi Sensei and to you:

    To Osada Eikichi Sensei for his life-work, and for having ensured his works, not only to be continued, but to evolve.
    Thus my deepest respect for Osada Eikichi Sensei for having had the courage and (rebelling-) wisdom to chose you.

    And for you, for having spirit, skills, wisdom and (hu)man-capability
    to respectfully take Sensei’s teachings higher,
    never losing ground & ‘Sense of Chocolate’,
    bringing life of rope into a sphere of
    unique grace, witt and sublime aestethic,
    ~ that twinkle in your eyes

    I do believe, Osada Eikichi Sensei now is all content.

    respectfully,

    nekoko deli

  3. And now for a little bio….
    Spending some time on the net, I came up with a *non verified* bio of Osada Eikichi, so after some time and a new set of batteries for my electronic dictionnary….(transcription of names, especially first names are probably not accurate) (ndt: I am using the suffix Shi instead of San for eminent past masters, hence Osada Shi ) (ndt: notes du traducteur, means personal remarks from translator)

    1925/3/1 Born in Tochigi Prefecture
    1965 establishes Osada Seminar in a ballet school called Ars Nova in front of Asagaya station in Suginami-ku). 桜田伝次郎 (Sakurada Tenjirou), who will later become a well-known sm film director, is assisting.

    In the same period, Osada Shi runs a series of events on the second floor of a car garage owned by 玉井敬友 (Tamai Keiyu) (a well known playwright and theatre director who wrote a number of plays about – and was closely associated with – Ito Seiyu) (ndt: if you wanted a link in the tradition you’ve got it…). It is said that Sakurada Tenjirou (still working as assistant of Osada Shi) met with Tamai Shi at that time.

    Before the seventies, Osada Shi and Sakurada Tenjirou start doing joint events, starting with a joint performance at the Sekai Gekijou in Nishi Ogikubo.

    1970: Osada Shi starts the mahjong salon “Lotus” close to the north exit of Kanda which will operate for 2 years and also serve as a Shibari Studio by moving tables and chairs outside. It is said that some girls who liked to be tied before the actual Shibari events in the evening were tied up in the mahjong salon and left there for the day, “as a preparation for the event” said Osada Shi.

    1978: Osada Shi also start to appear in various theaters. First show is at the Dogenzaka Theater in Shibuya.

    1980 Starting in October, Osada Shi gives monthly shows at the Blue Chateau, a sm club started by 初代癸マリ (Shodaiki(?) Marie). The events will only take place every three months starting in 1984 lasting until the closure of the club in 1988.
    At the same time, he was giving instructions to several Mistresses. Among them , Mistress 北条小夜子(Kitajo Koyako (??)) ( ndt: some DVDs of her are still available, transcripts from VHS) who was on the staff of the Blue Chateau.
    Runs events for Osada Seminar, in various Ryokan, first close to Mukojima Hyakkaen, then in Ueno (熱海亭 Nekkaitei, The inn of tropical seas…) and in Bunkyo ku . 佐土魔造 (Sado Mazo (ndt: where could this pen name come from …?)) is said to have attended regularly (ndt: for some of you collectors, he appears frequently as a writer in SM Select a now defunct magazine of the 80s, precursor to SM Sniper).

    1983: Osada Shi starts to appear at Samm Pub, a high class, high cost sm club in Roppongi run by 賀山茂 (Masu(??)yama Shigeru)
    (ndt: the Samm PUb started in 1981 was to be the start of the Samm VIdeo house which produced sm videos , changing its name to HMP later and closing in 2001 ) The Samm pub was one of the favourites drinking place of Dan Oniroku (well known SM writer, movie producer)

    Around the same date, Osada Shi is appearing at Ikebukuro Sky, a strip theather located where the Bic Camera ikebukuro now stands. His partner is 森美樹 (Mori Miki) who starts the show by appearing in an OL outfit and then doing a masturbation show and a self-shibari before the entrance of Osada Shi on the scene. At the time the SM shows sets in theaters used to last 40mn (with 5 rotations per afternoon…)

    Osada Shi was also associated with other models, particularly Akane and other models from the RA-kikaku model agency.

    1984: Osada Shi produces a movie called “オルガズム”(Orgasm) (ndt: cannot find it, would buy a copy …)

    1986: Osada Shi starts doing shows with 早乙女宏美 (Saotome Hiromi) (ndt: a very famous actress of SM Nikkatsu films who started he career in 1984). Shows took place twice a month (for a ten-day stretch at a time) from 1986 to 1989. Osada Shi was introduced to Saotome San by 藤木正夫 (Touki Masao) the director of Nude Model Productions who also supplied models for various photo books around that time.

    (ndt: hopefully will do the nineties later this week, if only because I started to connect (sadly as a “watcher” only) with the scene around 1988 upon my first visits to Tokyo). (Any help with names is highly appreciated. Please feel free to revert with corrections and additions)

  4. Nice interview. It is a challenging task to carry on the tradition while keeping up with the latest developments in a scene that evolves as rapidly as the SM-scene in Tokyo. But then, is there anything that does not evolve fast in Tokyo?

    While I am still struggling to properly tie my shoes, I still somehow grasp the distant world of shibari that is out there. Perhaps one day it will be more than just a glimpse…

  5. Bio (after 1990)
    1990: Jan-Jun directs the strip theater Tsurumi Shinsekai
    28 May runs an event at Le Pierre (in Ikebukuro) with Saotome Hiromi. Assistant is Salome (ndt: I am not sure whom this refers to )
    1991 Spring -1992 Oct directs the strip theather Funabashi Wakamatsu Theater
    1992 Oct 10 Suffers a cerebral attack and enter hospital, during is stay he will frequently escape to practice shibari which is said to help with his recovery.
    1993 June 3 Opening of the sm pub Black and White on the first floor of the Coco Hotel in Ootsuka. Osada Shi does the opening performance with Saotome Hiromi and stays on for 2 months as adviser while performing sm shows.
    1993 Nov-Dec does regular shows at the sm pub Doga in Shibuya space is very limited (approximately 2 tatamis). The model is 小澤一美(Ozawa Kazumi)
    1993 show at the sm club Barajujikan (?) 薔薇十時館 (ndt: I assume it is the Japanese for rosa crucix (rosicrucian, Rosecroix) a masonic symbol and order active in France, UK and Wales) in Kyoto
    1994 20 Apr photoshoot with Ozawa Kazumi at the Coco Hotel for the weekly publication Taishuu (週刊大衆)(litt: the weekly for the masses)
    1994 Oct 1-10; Nov 21-30 show at the Dogenzaka Theater in Shibuya。Model is 葵瑠璃(Aoi Ruri aka Blue Lapis Lazuli) (ndt: could not find anything on her)
    1995 Jan 21-31 show at Ueno Star with 桂木綾乃(Katsuraki Ayano)(sm actress still active today)
    Feb (March?) show at Shinjuku DX
    Apr 11-20 show at the Mikado Pub in Ikebukuro, model: 篠崎花(Shinozaki Hana ) (ndt: could not find anything on her).
    July 11-20 show at the Shinsei DX Fushimi in Kyoto with members of the sm club Aman from Nagoya (如月志乃 Kisara Sashino, (ndt) strip actress, sm mistress, seems to have been active until 2001, some VHS still available and 夕日茜 Sekijitsu Akane (sm model or mistress, still active in 2005 when she participated in a show at Loft Plus One in Shinjuku )).
    Sept: Show at Shibuya OS
    1996 Aug-Nov publication in the magazine SM Mania of an article in 4 installments #My SM life# (ndt: I have these magazines somewhere, a soon as I get them I will give a copy to Tie Breaker)
    Sept : Opening of the sm pub bondage in Shinjuku, stays for 2 months as in house adviser, Opening party show with 刹奈紫之 (Setsuna Shino, (ndt) sm actress/director well known for specializing in hard scato movies, especially for the label Aroma Kikaku).
    1997 May: show at Black and White in Ootsuka (Model: Kisara Sashino).
    1997 Aug 20-30: shows at Omiya Gekijo (Model Saotome Hiromi)
    Oct 21-31: Tsurumi Shinsekai Gekijo: shows with Saotome Hiromi
    1998 July 27: show at Loft plus one with Saotome Hiromi. Sekijitsu Akane also performs.
    1998 Aug 21 to 1999 Sept 24
    Weekly shows at the bondage bar in Shinjuku every Friday at 21:00. Initially with the staff girls then from October with Ozawa Kazumi.
    On a certain Friday, Osada Steve (in those days going by the name of Dr. D. Vice) walks in, the rest is history and connects with the interview supra.

  6. Thanks a lot to Steve and NuitdeTokyo, it’s very interesting to see how this whole thing developed.

  7. As one of those “Shibari/Kinbaku-famished fans in the West”, thank you for this interview.

    Having just returned from California where I heard Master K speaking about “The Beauty of Kinbaku”, I am always ready to learn more.

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