This past week I have been fortunate to be in Tokyo at the same time as Master “K.” As most people know by now, in response to his book, he has had multiple invitations to visit Japan, the most recent by Nureki Chimou, probably the greatest living rope master and an active bakushi who is still tying at the age of 80 after 60 years of professional kinbaku.

 

While I was not able to attend every event (nor invited to), I got to spend time watching and observing as Master “K” spoke with and interviewed some of the world's most famous rope artists and while they asked him questions about his own work, history, and kinbaku.

Just as The Beauty of Kinbaku was a work which brought together many different bakushi, histories and lines of thought in the writing of the cultural history of kinbaku in Japan, the meetings I was a part of surveyed the current state of kinbaku in Japan.

What made this special for me was watching the mutual admiration and respect between K Sensei and the people he met with. But what is even more vital to those of us in the West is that no one has been able to access and meet with such a wide range of current practitioners of the art. Even in Japan, where rivalries among rope artists are legend, Master K was able to speak across the divide and capture a comprehensive view of what is happening in Japan. The styles of the people he spoke with ranged from seme (torture) to newaza (caressing style) and crossed nearly every genre of rope.

Most important to us is what he is bringing back to the West.

We are at the point where information is starting to flow between the US and Japan (thanks in large part to groups like this) and the Japanese are becoming more aware of a small but vibrant kinbaku community in America.

The things I saw and heard, sitting like a fly on the wall, were enough to lead me to believe that a revolution is possible and what Master K brings back may well reshape how we think about rope in the West. He is returning with the most comprehensive view of kinbaku that we have ever had in the West, both historical and current.

While these are not my stories to tell, I can share some highlights of my part of the visit.

Being permitted to witness a photo shoot by the legendary kinbaku master Nureki Chimuo.

Meeting Yukimura Haruki, shaking his hand, and having a brief conversation with him about my kinbaku studies. He was kindness incarnate and in a meeting that lasted less that 10 minutes I got a sense of his brilliance, generosity of spirit, and overwhelmingly positive energy and charisma.

Witnessing a delightful visit with Naka Arika, who was nothing like I expected and who had an amazing sense of humor and a raucous belly laugh that was infectious to be around.

Having a chance to meet Arisue Go and Kogure and meet face to face the man who makes the rope I use!

Last, but not least, was an extraordinary connection forged between K Sensei and the famous Nitkatsu rigger Urato Hiroshi, culminating in nearly 2 hours of oral history we were able to record on video of Master K and Urato Hiroshi in conversation about topics ranging from the movies they both love to Urato-san's relationship with Minomura Ko. Urato-san is a remarkable and charming man (he also took K used book shopping in Kanda and again I got to tag along!)

There were many other meetings, lessons, and discussions I was not privy to, but which I have no doubt will shape my lessons with Master K in the future and the lessons of many many others.

I have seen Master K tie many, many times, but last night, the night before leaving Tokyo, I watched as he tied with a new energy, a new sense of purpose, and a new style which has undoubtedly been the effect of what he has seen, learned, and processed from everything he was a part of all week.

The difference was palpable. And it is his mission to pass that on.

As we said our goodbyes, I knew he was leaving with a new set of friends here in Tokyo, a group of fellow travelers who accepted him as one of their own and now shared with him as graciously as he shares with us in the West.

We have in Master K a true ambassador for the West in Japan and a true educator for those of us willing to step into a bigger world of kinbaku.

Viva la revolution!



Grabado: 2010-06-22 21:38:49

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