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NSFW: The Mid-century Bondage of Kitan Club Magazine

Kinbaku is the Japanese art of consensual sexual bondage that began in the late Edo period of the 1600s to 1860s. Long before Westerners discovered shibari, the Japanese were enthralled by Kinbaku-bi, “the beauty of tight binding,” with Seiu Ito making kinbaku well known in art in the early 1900s (more about him here). In the mid-20th century, kinbaku came to the mainstream through Kitan Club magazine, which ran from 1947-1975. This magazine brought the erotica of restraints to life in unsettling black and white photos. They’re unsettling because instead of the exaggerated (literally) enjoyment or loathing we’ve come to expect in Western porn, these images show women having a more resigned response to being tied up and mauled. Like they’ve resigned themselves to their captivity, or they’re too despairing and tired to fight back. Not super surprising that the magazine began publishing just 2 years after WWII – there’s a POW/Stockholm Syndrome vibe to these images. Men returning from a war that flourished on taking prisoners and torturing them needed an outlet for their patriotic activity, with a sexualized and patriarchal twist. Check out this gallery of Kitan Club magazine here:

Images via Dr. Tenge

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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