Posted on Tue, 14 April 2015
The inventor of entertainment SM, Mr Eikichi Osada passed away on the 12th of September 2001 at the age of 76.
Eikichi has been focusing on the entertainment aspect of SM and kept fascinating fans since he established Osada seminar till the very last moment before his death. Eikichi’s intimate friends gathered for a round table talk in a sympathetic tone. These unknown episodes, which only those who have created the stage together with Eikichi know, are revealed here.
Hiromi Saotome =H
Kazumi Osada =K
Steve Osada =S
Miki Mori =M
H: Here we are. First of all, talking of old stories, Miki would be the one who knows the most I guess.
M: Me!? Am I the oldest timer? I thought it was you Hiromi.. well, I have almost forgotten about a lots of things.
K: When it comes to oldies, I will leave it to you guys
M: Oh dear!
H: It’ll come up while we are talking. When did you meet Mr Osada (Eikichi) for the first time?
M: Probably it was at the office of Rah Project (*Undeground theatrical group where Miki has performed) A strange guy suddenly popped in when we were working on admin stuff, then he took something from the office and left. We were like “Who the hell is that guy?” lol
Then afterwards, someone told us that it was Mr Osada who runs Osada seminar but we didn’t know who Mr Osada was at the moment.. It was just like out of blue cos he was wearing formal shirt and our office people were really punk, like Mohican hairstyles and so on.
H: When was that?
M: Around 1982 - 1983 I suppose.
H: And was it at a theatre where you met Mr Osada for a second time?
Mr Osada didn’t have a regular partner for his show so he came to Rah Project looking for a girl. There was a girl named Akane who was his model from time to time but she injured herself, so I took the stage instead of Akane. I was training at the office before going to the theatre, so I think it was actually at the office when I met him for the second time.
H: How did you feel when you tried the first session?
M: I thought he was good natured lol
H: So “A strange guy like a fish out of water” turned into “A good natured guy”
M: Yeah, Mr Osada was actually nice and easy to talk. He was even like the only person who is normal out of malicious people. But also I thought “He binds so fast..this is the Osada method!” while I was taught how to tie.
H: Then you started appearing the show “Samm” (SM lounge where Mr Osada has often performed)
M: Yes, Mr Osada was doing his regular show twice a day at Samm and girls from Rah Project were involved when they were available.
S: Well excuse me (in Japanese)..How much was the pay?... One million yen?
M: Are you a freak!? Lol
H: What are you like!?
K: We all would keep doing it now if it was that good!
H: I’d be on cloud nine!
M: Yeah, we could have even bought a building!
H: About ten thousand yen?
M: Something like that.
K: Was that big amount at that time?
M: Yeah, it was quite big. (Steve left his seat and started playing with rope) And I realised the pay went up whenever I was booked under the name of Osada seminar. It was obviously less when I did a gig with Mr Shimane.
H: How much was that for the theatre show?
M: I think four hundred thousand yen for ten days
H: Ah, that must be the amount after deduction of Mr Osada’s expense lol
I asked Mr Osada once how much he gave to girls then he said “Hmm, probably forty or fifty hundred thousand”. I said “but sensei, you’ve got two million right? Where has it gone?” then he was like “Erm, you know..right?” Lol
M: I was so broke at that time! Lol
H: Mr Osada was a big spender. It easily cost twenty thousand yen or more for dinner.. I was worried if it was OK to spend that much.
M: I have never been treated! Lol The only conversation we had in those 10 days was just “Good morning” or “Take care of yourself” so I was thinking how reserved this man is..
K: I’ve had Unagi (Eel) together .
M: Yeah, I admit that there is a huge gap between a temporary partner and a favourite!
H: What are you talking about.. but it was actually the peak time (1982-1983) when theatres were opening all night. The economy was not too bad.
M: Yeah, I’ve got “Oiri (bonus)” many times. There were five hundred or a thousand yen in the envelope I think.
K: It was so rewarding, wasn’t it?
M: Yes. I am not sure if it was the first or second time in history but it was probably the golden age.
H: I’ve heard that Mr Doji Shimane had been organising Rah Project, correct?
H: What made Mr Shimane create Rah Project?
M: Originally, it was created by people who belonged to “Tenjo Sajiki” (*underground theatrical group which has been directed by Shuji Terayama) and they gathered for the sake of play. But in reality they were just too busy paying their office rent, hence they became a group who dealt with strip clubs so that they could survive somehow..
H: OK that means Mr Shimane had been searching for jobs and sending people to the clubs like an agent?
M: Yes, but gigs from theatres had all been booked through Mr Osada, rather than Mr Shimane, as he had some deep connection with theatres. To be fair, it was the income source that we usually relied on whenever the money runs out. We had no idea if it was going to be a regular job. We were all like a permanent part-timer at that time.
M: Don’t you think that all the men wore black shirt and black trousers at that time?
H: I wonder when it started?
K: Sensei told “Dark rimmed glasses and black top and bottom. They are all mimicking me”
M: And rose embroidery on the chest?
H: That is Denki Akechi. We call it “Akechi brand” Lol
M: Ah, true! Lol
H: It was sometimes a dragon
M: Ahaha ,yes but red rope reminds me of Mr Osada.
H: He had been using red rope since beginning
K: I’ve asked him “Why red cotton rope?” then he said “Red is more entertaining, isn’t it?”
H: Our costumes were all red. Was it the same when you were performing?
M: I didn’t wear kimono much. Office lady and so on.
H: How did Mr Osada’s show look like at that time?
M: First of all I’d get on stage, take my clothes off, masturbate and do some self-shibari then Sensei would come on.
K: So you take your clothes off by yourself. How did you do self-shibari?
M: Perfunctorily. Bind, hang, candle and whipping.
K: That’s almost everything!
H: Then, Mr Osada would appear at last Lol How did it go after that?
M: Well, come to think of it, there was always a regular procedure. He’d grab my arms roughly and bind my hands behind my back. I think he went from the breasts first.
K: Probably, Sensei made a loop of rope grabbing your hands behind and quickly tied them up.. No matter what kind of situation it was, Sensei chased you first and bound hands behind back, didn’t he?
M: Yes. Then he moved to the chest and let the model lie down...next would probably be legs. (Hiromi demonstrates saying “Like this?”) Yes! He tied one leg like that, then went for whipping. Whipped several times, then put the leg down.. Well I don’t remember everything but the end was upside down hanging by a thigh.
K: How many minutes in total?
M: Twenty minutes or so.
H: What? Twenty minutes in total?
K: It should be twenty minutes for self-bondage and another twenty minutes for Sensei’s part, no?
M: So was that forty minutes?
H: How do I know! Lol
K: The show ran all night at that time. How many times did you get on the stage per day? Five times?
M: Let me see.. It was one time less than the dancers. I think it was four or five times per day.
H: Dancers for the all night shift had to perform 6 times in general so it would have been five times.
K: Forty minutes times five sessions… sounds like a lot of work.
M: It was a lot of work! And our work often made us feel small getting scolded by the venue saying “You left candle wax on the floor!”
K: Yes, they didn’t like it because candle wax gets slippery.
K: Mr Osada’s style of whipping was really fast that it sprayed wax all over at the end.
H: Yes, it was like random flogging with a cat o’nine tails.
M: He sometimes pinched the skin with belled clothespins then slapped them off with a whip.
H: It was kind of trendy at one point.
M: Mr Osada actually said “I did it first”. He was always searching for a new style for the shows right till the end.
K: Shall we call him an establisher of the style of entertainment SM?
M: I guess so.
H: That’d be true.
K: Although it is always good to try something new, piko piko hammer* was not popular at all.
*Piko piko hammer http://youtu.be/yvBqvGFBBq0
H: Piko piko hammer? Lol
K: When he lifted the model, then hit her head with piko piko hammer.
H: Piko piko hammer? Lol
K: He hit the model’s head when he lifted, it was like piko piko.
H: Did he?
K: We got some feedback from the audience saying “That was out of order” Lol
H: He liked toy-ish stuff.
K: Always picked up something new saying, we may use this for the show.
H: He has used cracker.
M: I don’t know when it started. We have never used it as far as I know.
S: And, there was a gun.
K: Ah, cap pistol. I remember there was something fizzy but I don’t know what it was. Shaving cream?
H: That was party goods. The one we can buy at Tokyu Hands.
M: Since when has he been using that stuff?
K: He was already using it when I met him first time.
H: I’ve seen it in 1986.
M: So probably since 1984 or 1985.
H: We mustn’t talk about Mr Osada avoiding accidents.
K: When we were performing on a podium, it started spinning and although we wanted to walk toward the back stage, we somehow started walking toward the audience, then fell off from the stage. Lol
M: And the episode of the wig! He always brushed his wig before the show.
K: The first wig he bought was great quality, which apparently cost about 400,000-500,000yen. Then it became old and he bought something similar at the same price saying “A wig is actually essential regardless of financial difficulty”. But…the one he was using at the end was just equivalent to 10,000yen. Lol
M: Was the financial situation not good?
K: The last one was just light. He quite liked it. He said the expensive one was too heavy.
H: (Looking at an old photo) This, I think it’s quite an early one but as he isn’t wearing a wig.
K: He sometime forgot to bring it by accident. Lol
M: The wig has been flown away while we were performing. When he did hogtie and rotated me, my legs or something hit his head by accident then it got blown away. Lol I tried really hard not to burst out laughing.
K: We obviously cannot laugh on the stage Lol
M: Sensei rushed to pick it up and turned around wearing it. There must haven been some better way to fix the wig such as when he looks down or something, but he did it overtly. Lol I was normally left behind while Sensei was fixing. And also whenever the wig has been out of the position, I had to whisper him like “It is slipping off! The wig!”
K: We bought a double sided tape and applied on the head in order to reinforce the wig..
M: I didn’t know that..
K: The tape needed to be reapplied every time the performance finished. We even prepared extra tape in advance.
M: Well in that case he has done nothing while we were working together. Lol
H: It must have been improved as time passed.
K: From packing tape to double sided tape..
H: Then to gum band!
M: I’ve had a joint trouble for a month when I was tied with arms by Mr Osada at my very first stage. Have you ever experienced such problem? I couldn’t even hold a cup.
M: I’ve had sometimes. I think it was at the show where many well-known people like George Takahashi in Ashibe Hall. He squeezed a pipe into my anus but it was my first time so it bled..I was totally screaming like “Ouch!!” then got mad at him after the show.
H: You mean.. he put it into the wrong hole?
K: What? He mistook the front and the back? Well..Sensei would do it
H: Totally possible.
M: I was acting like nothing happened on the stage but I snapped at him straight after the show.
K: Yeah classic
M: Speaking of which, I have done performance with Sensei at Dotonbori Theatre at Shibuya several times.
K: Apparently that is where Sensei did the show for the first time.
M: And that is exactly where he dropped me.
K: From which position?
M: Upside down
K: What! Was your head ok?
M: My arms are tied in Gote so I totally hit my head then took one day off from work.
H: One day..lol
K: I have never been dropped from the upside down. Am I just lucky?
M: It happened to me twice lol
K: Sensei was checking the riggings hanging by himself beforehand though… Is that you (Hiromi Saotome) who has done the show with Sensei the most?
M: I was doing just for a short time.
H: At the end of the day, the pay has been decreasing and I just could not survive. It was fine to perform just few times per year in the beginning as the wage was much better.
M: Then it couldn’t make ends meet.
H: Yes. I was reviewing the old diaries the other day and realised that I have been working 20days a month, which means I needed to do it.
K: It feels like the time has been changed.
K: To be fair, I have compared the wage of SM performance with other organisation and found that the rate of Osada Seminar was the cheapest. One time I had a show with Sensei on Christmas eve and was waiting for audience at the venue after finishing the preparation at 9pm. But nobody showed up and the models started sleeping on the floor.
K: Meanwhile one client called saying he is coming, then the manager woke us up telling “guest is coming so get yourself ready!”.. We ended up performing just for one guest.
M: Since when have you (Kazumi Osada) been performing with Sensei?
K: I have officially started since November in 1993 at Doga in Shibuya.
M: Ah you have been doing a shibari seminar or something and I met you there for the first time when I visited for an interview.
H: When did you move the office to here?
K: October last year
M: Oh quite recent
K: Although before that, we rented Steve san’s studio where is on the upper floor. It is the same building but the space was double size of this room. Steven san bought the whole room and renovated the walls and ceiling.. Osada sensei loved the room as well. We could hang from the ceiling in there.
M: Steve san sounds rich
K: Well though not quite, Steve san is a company owner. But since we came here, he has been disappointed saying “the room is too small to throw the ropes. Boring”
M: Everywhere used to be the same. It was like the walls were even sweating.
H: Folding the legs on the floor.
K: It was fine for everyone if we could do some practice. But we were becoming greedier. Of course it is better if the room is bigger. Sensei used to say “One Tatami is big enough” though..
H: Why couldn’t you keep the upper floor any longer?
K: The financial situation of Steve san’s company has worsened. We could not keep it for fun. But he has been letting us use the space favourably at all the time, we always stayed there whole Saturdays.
Interviewer: When did you (Steve Osada) meet Osada sensei for the first time?
S: It was at the interview of “Tokyo Journal” in 1998.
M: May I ask your age?
K: There was a typo in the article of the interview which was misprinting someone else’s name instead of Sensei’s. Steve san has been sending us the draft but it has got stuck at somewhere else.. Then I ended up sending the complaints to Steve san’s company by fax continuously over a month..
M: So Sticky lol
K: Well isn’t it normal to get mad when Sensei’s name is misprinted.
Interviewer: What was your impression when you saw Osada sensei’s show? (to Steve Osada)
S: I was in shock. It was wild, sensational and good acting.
K: The bondage show has got cut off right after the interview of Steve san. Meanwhile Steve san started to be interested in learning shibari then he eventually introduced us “Sebian” when we were looking for a space for practice.
S: “Sebian” gave us the advertisement on “Tokyo Journal”. Then I introduced.
M: “Master’s bar” isn’t it?
H: Until when has Sensei been performing at Wakamatsu Theatre?
K: The last time Sensei was on was February last year.
M: Last year?
K: (Looking at the diary) The show was postponed on 17th July 1999 due to falling from the stage.
M: Who fell off from the stage?
K: Sensei did. I was wondering why he was walking where is no support then he fell. I couldn’t do anything because I was tied.
M: It must be quite high.
K: His eyes were not looking straight. The body was leaning out..
H: He did not look ok
K: He seemed so dizzy and even afraid of standing on the stage saying “I cannot see the end line”. But he always wanted to perform. He told me that his feet felt numb when we were performing at Bondage in 1998. The circulation was not working well. It couldn’t help even if we did some massage..
M: I remember he was speaking nonsense when we were on the phone.
K: He could not speak at all when he came here at the last time on 20th January. If we get really closer, he could manage to recognise the face but the audience needed to support his body as he was totally leaning out..
S: With three supporters..
K: And it was at the show on 13th January, once he got on the stage, he was slowly leaning out and was totally behind the music. Then one of the staff said “I will do it instead” to take over his place but Sensei was still trying to perform so the audience came up to the stage to support him throughout the show. Then Sensei did the show till the end.
K: I couldn’t do anything after getting tied.
H: The energy of him was incredible.
K: I thought it is impossible for him to make it on the last day. But he said “this is my circle.” Then when he came here, it was like he has been through a lot, and I couldn’t help holding him. He has got many poultices on his legs. But he was in a risky condition so we decided to finish earlier.
H: I see
K: It was speechless.. But Sensei said “Actually, I was happy that I did the show”
M: True. Osada san looked different once he held the rope
K: Therefore, Sensei was so pleased when Steve san offered the space on the upper floor where we could practice..
S: Sensei’show is unpredictable. We never know what will happen next. That is why it has got so much of impact. We never know what tie he will make next.
K: When three months has passed since sensei was sent to the hospital, we got criticised that it is not right to keep running Osada Seminar without sensei. In my point of view, it was the only thing I could do to use his name and secure the place where he can come back at any time. One day I went to the hospital to ask for his permission and realised that he had been thinking that he could get back on stage after leaving the hospital. I felt so sorry. He even tried to stand up and walk when I played the music I was going to use for my show..
S: Well it is actually incredible to have such strong mentality of “keep on doing”. Keeping the motivation as it is, even getting more hungry like further more and more..
M: How old was sensei?
K: 76. It has been secret. Although he started saying “I turned 70” when he hit 73 or 4 years old, he was always telling people at interviews “I am 60” when he was still 70 lol
S: Sensei’s message was always “Steve, we don’t need copies. Go for original”
K: Yes, he said you should go changing even if we copy at the beginning. He taught me Jibaku (self bondage) only twice though. So I would like to know what Mori san leant.
S: I want to see it.
K: Same here. Here we have kimono, whips and candles lol
M: I have gained so much weight. The width got bigger.
K: See you on Saturday! (Saturday is the training day)
M: Can’t hear you lol
K: Thinking of myself as well..I have been thinking that we can keep up with this as long as there is even one person who wants to see what we do, but was about to close here last year when sensei stopped doing shibari. You know we have been operating in the red for a while. So I thought it is actually impossible.
K: The vibe of the people who are coming here is so good now. It is like everybody is enjoying. When it comes to performances, we have to push it though. It is compulsory to attend.
S: Free for tie and being tied.
K: Yes so people who want to tie, they can tie and others who want to be tied, they can be tied. And also sensei has always been enjoying the show whenever we do it in here. He has asked around the audience saying “how was that?” as he liked talking with them.
H: Then you decided to inherit his will and keep the place as far as one person comes at least..
K: Well haven’t resolved that much though..lol
H: You should conclude that way! Lol
K: Ask Steve. I personally think Steve doesn’t want to do much without sensei.
H: (asking Steve) Do you actually keep on doing show?
S: I like free tie and being tied session on Saturday and Wednesday.
K: I wish someone else could take it over. It is too sad to quit the entertainment style of performance like sensei did. But these things cannot afford our life. For such reason, it would be hard to keep up. His rate has been dropped to single digits.
M: Really? With 10 days show?
M: It is difficult indeed.
K: Sensei said “I cannot afford it” for real.
M: Then what are you going to do Steve?
K: In time, when it’s agreed, we will announce his first successor. lol Steve likes Osada sensei.
H: Cool, Steve becomes Osada Eikichi’s successor. lol I think you should go for it if you want to.
K: If someone can technically get close to sensei, you know. The most important thing is to do it with his spirit, sincerely from the heart. If somebody has that, it’s OK by me.
H: In fact, I have seen many type of shows of many people but nothing else like the way Osada Seminar did it.
K: When Sensei was alive, he said “I don’t think someone else like me will be coming up” lol
M: Good luck, you have my support, Steve.
S: I’ll do my best!
H: Good to hear lol
(Interviewed at Osada Seminar in 2001.)
NOTE: Due to the nature of written Japanese, it is vital to not only fully know the context but also the subject. As this section is extremely improtant, the text in italics has been translated by Aizen Kaguya, a professional translator with 10 years’ experience in consultation with Ren Yagami. She has worked on many important projects including the Fukushima disaster and other technical translations and also has an excellent knowledge of kinbaku. Thus, you can be assured that the rendition is as close to the original as possible.
However, the rest of the translation was performed by Ayumi LaNoire, a bi-lingual Japanese national with an interest in kinbaku and some amazing skills with fire and the pole.
My sincerest thanks to all three, especially as I now finally appreciate how difficult it is to translate between the two languages.