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The Hojo rope was usually of good quality made from very strong softly entwined fibres that were then twisted three together into a thin rope. Furthermore it was considered very good to let the rope soak in blood. Such a blood soaked rope could be kept for years without rotting as long as it was also very good for extensive tying. Another method was to soak the finished rope in the astringent juice of unripe persimmons. This was a gentler tying rope but they tended to rot quickly and had a tendency to come apart. So this would have been used to secure the old or very young, or ladies. It would not have been left on for very long.

Silk was also used but although strong the fibres had a tendency to burst apart. During the Tokugawa Era (1600 - 1800) ropes manufactured by monks of the Sanshuhozo temple were highly prized.

It is the feudal martial skill of restraining a prisoner with rope. It was practiced by the warrior class and in particular the samurai, who acted as police officers. The word hojo is made up of the character 'ho', which is also pronounced 'tori' and means to catch, seize or arrest someone, the character 'jo', which is also pronounced 'nawa' and means rope, and of course the word 'jutsu', meaning art or skill. The actual characters can then be read in English as either 'torinawa jutsu' or 'hojo jutsu'. However, both meanings remain the same. The main reason for tying someone up is because a need has arisen to keep them alive and take them captive, or prevent their escape. This was often the case during Japan's feudal period, particularly when the captured enemy was thought to be able to be persuaded to part with vital information, or be used in an ex-change deal for someone of importance who had been captured by the other side. There were various other reasons why rope tying was employed in Japan. One further purpose was to secure prisoners who were to be brought before a magistrate and tried for crimes they had committed.

Simple knots

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Overhand knot: This simple knot is done simply by making a loop and drawing the end through.

Larks head: Make a bight in the rope, run the bight around whatever you are attaching to, and then run the running ends fo the rope through the loop and pull tight

Square Knot (reef knot): This is a simple knot that is used to tie two ropes or the ends o f one rope together.

Bowline: This knot can have several loops made to spread the weight more, and is useful for single limb ties.

Anchor Hitch: This is a complex hitch, but is much stronger than the half hitch. It is also more complicated to untie. This knot can be used for suspension. This hitch will not deform under stress. It should NOT be used on wrists and ankles or for that matter around the body at all.

S e c u r in g p ris o n e rs
In practically every country throughout the world the feudal era was littered with various means of securing prisoners. The techniques ranged from rope, to shackles or ball and chain. It would seem, however, that no other nation developed such a sophisticated system of rope tying as the Japanese. Hojojutsu was incorporated into the samurai's knowledge of fighting skills and used during the sanguineous era of the 'Sengoku Jidai' in particular. The lower class police officers, called 'okapiki', were taught very basic forms of Hojojutsu under the guidance of senior police officials from samurai stock. However, with the Meiji restoration (1887), the art of Hojojutsu began to fall into decline. When prisoners were held captive, they were tied in a specific manner, according to their rank and social status. Each method of tying denoted what class of society the prisoner came from, each was tied in a recognizable way. If a person had been found guilty of a particular offence he was tied in a manner denoting the offence he had committed. There were special techniques for people with strong arms or people capable of slipping out of the knots, even mad and extremely violent people were tied using special knots. Because the style of tying varied with both the crime and status of a prisoner, the length of rope used varied considerably. Some ropes were only a foot in length, while others reached well over 30 feet. Most of the Hojojutsu ropes were made of tightly twined linen that had been beaten until soft. Silk rope was not very popular because it was easy to slip the bonds. However, hemp rope did play a part in various styles of Hojojutsu. During the Edo period the use of colored rope to denote particular crimes and status became popular. White rope denoted someone who had only committed a minor crime, while a blue rope was used to secure offenders who had committed serious crimes. If a person was of high rank then a violet rope was sometimes used, bu t if they were of low rank then a black rope was used.

K / io t s
The knots used for making the rope secure were many and varied. Some were employed to tighten as the prisoner struggled, while others simply held fast. When a number of prisoners were being conveyed somewhere together a long length of rope with hand loops secured each prisoner to the other. When the prisoner was conveyed alone the length of rope usually measured seven meters Even the retaining cord on the sword scabbard was used to secure the unexpected prisoner. There were many classical ryu (martial art schools) who employed the technique of rope tying in their repertoire. These included Fujiwara ryu, Chokuji Goden ryu, Sekieuchi Shin Shin ryu and many others. Apart from the actual tying skills, the ryu employed various techniques of throwing and restraining that complemented the art of Hojojutsu.

A c c e s s o rie s
There were many subtle appendages to the rope used in capturing an escaping prisoner. One included a barbed hook. This special hook was thrown as the criminal ran away. However, as soon as it ensnared the clothing the criminal was brought to the ground and secured before he could free himself. The prisoner would then be subjected to an intricate web of rope which would make him completely immobile. In modem Japan there are very few masters of the martial arts who are skilled in the traditional art of Hojojutsu. The art of Hojojutsu has not yet died out in Japan. The modem police force still carry special rope with which to secure their prisoners (of course handcuffs are also carried). The rope is also used by the police in Japan to cordon off areas and keep the public back during times of disaster, so its use is not restricted simply to the tying of prisoners. O b sc u re Hojojutsu is an obscure but interesting part of the cultural history of martial arts. It reflects the ingenuity of the samurai class and the manner in which the essence of this martial skill has been passed down, even to today's modem Japanese police force. Takagi Yoshin Ryu is a Jujutsu school which began in the 17th century. It was regarded as a 'Body Guard' school. Most of the formal techniques in the school end with the attacker being held in a position to facilitate the art of Hojojutsu. The way you were tied depended very much upon your social position as well as that of the social position of the person tying you. Hojojutsu was hardly ever practiced as an art by itself but was seen as a complement to arts such as Jujutsu. It was used by Japanese 'policemen' after the Meiji restoration along with the Jutte, Bo and Kusarifundo as an arresting device for the Samurai who resisted the disarming of them. The JNP (Japanese National Police) use the 2 meter rope on the most violent (drunk or drugged) or in situations where there are multiple suspectsriots especiallyand yes, these do occur even in the mostly law abiding Japan. Take it one step beyond the single suspect. Suspects can be tied up as well as to one another making it difficult to escape. Imagine trying to escape while dragging one or more people with you. Even if you got your legs free (which is possible but not likely) you would have to make a series of additional movements to free yourself from the other people.

(jio s s a r y
Havanawa: "fast rope" a shorter rope used for the initial restraint hiro; a unit of traditional measure for lengths roughly equivalent to the old English fathom, that is, the distance between a man's two outstretched hands (roughly 1.8 m). Units of traditional measure were not standardized in old Japan, but varied from province to province; the lengths given in the text below seem to be based on a somewhat shorter hiro. Hiro: a unit of traditional measure for lengths. Roughly equivalent to the old English fathom, that is, the distance between a man's two outstretched hands (roughly 1.8 m). Units of traditional measure were not standardized in old Japan, but varied from province to province; the lengths given in the text belows seem to be based on a somewhat shorter hiro. Hoioiutsu: the art of using a rope to capture, restrain and transport suspects and criminals in Japan during the Middle Ages and Early Modem periods; practiced by torimono.

Hon-nawa: "main rope" the long rope used for restraining and transporting a suspect securely. Jakuguchi: a small loop worked into one end of a torinawa. Kaginawa: "hooked rope;" a rope with a metal hook or barb fastened to one end, used to capture a fleeing suspect. Torimono: specially-trained constables attached to various shogunal or domain offices and holding various ranks, usually just below samurai status. Torinawa: any rope used in hojojutsu.

*]~~he length o f the rape

Rope lengths depended on which ryu the techniques came from. Each school had different methods. It was not until the advent of Shinobuka (Ninja Police) of the tokugawa that methods began to be standardised. However a basic rope was between 6.5 and 20.0 metres. Whilst a quick rope ranged from 4.5 to 6.5 metres. Some of the ropes had hook on the end of them. This is a general guide some schools used considerably shorter ropes as well. The hooked ends could be single, multiple or be fashioned for climbing walls. Finally there were ropes of 9. 15 and 21 metres.

raditions and techniques of hojojutsu

The following information is summarized from Nawa (1964). We don't ordinarily think of the Edo period (1600 - 1868) in Japan as one in which human rights were accorded much respect. Nevertheless, during this period binding a person was regarded as a grave matter, not to be undertaken lightly. People felt that the shame of having a rope around their necks and knots on their person was disgraceful in the extreme. Some considered it worse than death itself. If the proper forms of restraining suspects were not followed, the person who applied the restraints could be impeached. If, however, the restraints contained no knots, they were not considered "bondage" and thus were not disgraceful. In these cases, euphemisms like "wrapping" were used. Samurai regarded this work as beneath them and never applied restraints themselves, leaving it to their servants or to constables whose job it was. Even within the police, higher ranks, which were filled by men of full samurai class, left this task to the lower ranks, which were not. The hon-nawa came in lengths of 13, 11, 9, 7, and 5 fathoms. The hayanawa was 2 and a half fathoms. The length of the kaginawa was not fixed (Nawa 1964 - 101)." The length of one kaginawa in Nawa's collection is given as 13 shaku; a shaku is almost exactly one English foot. The ropes came in four colors, the significance of which changed over time. According to the earliest tradition, which lasted into the Edo period, the four colors were associated with a wellestablished set of correspondences between seasons, directions, and the four Chinese guardian creatures of the four directions. [Trans, note: These were also used in the layout of houses, gardens, and cities in China, Japan and Korea.]

The color of the rope changed with the season, and the prisoner was restrained facing the direction appropriate to the color and season. The correspondences are as follows:

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2. Red summer south front phoenix I

3. White autumn west right tiger

4. Black winter north back tortoise

During the dog days of late July and early August, a yellow rope was used. By the end of the Edo period, the colours had been reduced to two, white and indigo, and their use corresponded not to seasons or directions but to the branch of the constabulary using the ropes. Hemp was used for the real ropes, but silk was used for practice, which was done with dummies made of straw or heavy Japanese paper. The kaginawa was used to apprehend suspects by hooking the barb in the person's sash, collar, or if need be in the topknot, and then wrapping it around and around the body. The hayanawa was also used to prevent escape. Unlike the kaginawa, it had a small loop at one end, or sometimes a small metal ring. The plain end could be passed through this loop. For proper use it required the constable to be behind the suspect, or on horseback.

There were four rules of hojojutsu: 1. Not to allow the prisoner to slip his bonds. 2. Not to cause any physical or mental injury. 3. Not to allow others to see the techniques. 4. To make the result beautiful to look at.

The aim of Rule 3 was not so much secrecy for its own sake as it was preventing criminals from learning the techniques and figuring out ways to defeat them. However, the schools and techniques varied from one feudal domain to another. When a person was being transported cross-country, the binding would be allowed to come loose a bit just before turning him over to

the next domain's officers, so the latter would not be able to learn the techniques either. Each set of officers numbered at least four, and the new team would stand around the prisoner while one of their number bound him, not only to prevent escape but to foil prying eyes. In addition to the three ropes named above, there was a short rope about 14 inches long (one shaku, two sun). This was used in the following way: the suspect was made to sit in seiza (the formal sitting position, kneeling and with the weight on the heels) while both arms were pulled behind. Then the two thumbs and two big toes were tied together in a bundle. Alternatively, the two thumbs alone could be tied to the topknot or to a hole made in the collar. The following information is summarized from Nawa 1985. There were over 150 different ryu, or schools, of hojojutsu, each with its own techniques for using the hon-nawa and other torinawa. (The illustration at the top shows the variety used by one ryu alone.) The earliest dates from the middle 1500s, and the latest from the late nineteenth century.

L o o p s and h o o k s

A casual knot

A folded rope A rope with a ring (The ring helps the rope run easily)

Ropes with weights, quick handcuffs

A rope with a spike (this would be inserted into armour or clothing)

Quick ropes

The Methods of Winding up the Quick Rope

The loop is wound around the left thumb once, then the rope is brought around the little finger and then around the thumb again. This is continued until about 1.5 metres are left. The remainder is wound around the bundle to tie it into a hank. The ring, hook, etc, is left out to facilitate withdrawal.

Another method, if you have a large loop, is to slip the loop over your wrist and wind the rope over your hand. When there is an arms length left, wind this around the bundle as before. This method would be used for the shorter ropes.


Examples of Wrist Control using the Rope

Kamosage (Duck knot)

Tied loop

Looped loop

Hitosuji Kanai Musubi Hitosuji Gogyo Musubi (Straight forward five-element knot)

Hibari musubi (Skylark knot) If you catch an opponents fingers with skylark knot it is difficult for them to free themselves.

Folded rope


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Rope with Ring

Quick Handcuffs
From Hardw ood you make tw o grips with a length of 6cm and connect these with a rope of 50-55cm. As with the quick rope you wind around the wrists, make space between the hands, and having tightened the rope you wind it around itself a few times before tucking in the grips between the wrists.


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From brass or bamboo you make a pair of cylinders with a length of 6.5-7cm with a diameter of 9mm. These are connected to a piece of rope 19-20cm long. This is passed around the wrists as shown, then the captive can be marched off.



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How to Capture
Apply Take Ori or Ura Gyaku and take the opponent down. Holding the opponents elbow, slip a sliding loop (which is hanging over your right arm), over the opponents right hand.

The loop would be hanging over your own wrist with the hank up your sleeve or on your belt. Use Taijutsu to hold the opponent as you transfer the loop. Use the left hand to slip the loop over. Above are several examples of how the rope is carried and attached. Always control the opponent with the left hand, the knees or the feet before you commence tying.

Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Quick Rope Technique

W hen the loop is secured onto the right hand, tie the rope around the neck from the left to the right. Having done so secure the left hand with several twists, then tie the rope off where the rope forms an X. This should be about

25cm below the collar line.


Kanko Ryu Quick Rope

Immobilise the opponent with O-gyaku then using the folded rope tie the right wrist. As in the Yagyu Ryu, take the rope around the neck and secure the left hand. Straddle the opponent like a horse, then tie both wrists together at the X. If the opponent resists strike or press to the Kyusho point Dokko just below the ear with the thumb.

Tatsumi Ryu Quick Rope

After grounding the opponent, step on their arm and take the rope around the neck. Tighten the rope before securing the left hand. The captive can be left to calm down, but if he becomes wild you must immediately tie up ether the left or right foot. If the captive is barefoot, tie the big toe.

Quick Rope Ties

( J s e o f the hayanawa
The ideal for the hayanawa was to apply it within 10 seconds, skillfully, beautifully, and without risk of injury to the suspect. This rope was used only for apprehending suspects; because the person was not a convicted criminal prior to trial, no knots were used to avoid causing disgrace. [Trans, note: Of course this also meant it took less time to apply.] In place of knots, the end of the rope was only looped under itself or cast on a couple of times, and the constable kept the free end in hand.

"Three "wrappings" with the hayanawa

These are not "bindings" because no knots are used. The "loop" mentioned is the jakuguchi (see glossary). These instructions ar e translated from Nawa (1985: 197-199) from which the sketches are also taken.

The Cross With the loop end of the rope at L of the back of the neck, bring the plain end through the loop and down, then around the R upper arm, under the arm and across the back to L arm; do the same there. Then bring the rope across the top of the horizontal to hold it in place, and through the part coming down from the neck (again on top of the horizontal). Pull down. Then wrap the wrists (R over L) from top to bottom, from L to R and R again, wrapping them 2 or 3 times. Then bring the free end under these wrappings, L to R. Hold the end, don't tie it off.

Hishi or Mawashi-nawa This called both Hishi (diamond shape) and Mawashi-nawa (twirling rope). The rope hanging from above is called Yoryo the upper diamond shape. The rope hanging below is called Inryo the lower diamond shape. The Girdle or Diamond (from its shape) Double the rope and note the halfway point-place this at the Adams apple. Wrap the free ends around the back, crossing L over R, and wrap over the upper arms, R and L. Bring free ends around front and then pull through under the arms. Bring the two ends together at the lower back and pull taut. Wrap the wrists, R over L, as in the previous, keeping both ends together. Pass the ends under the L side and pull through to R to tighten. [Trans, note: The number of triangles may be multiplied for visual effect.


The Well-curb Pass the rope around the neck with the loop to the R and pull taut. Bring the rope down diagonally to L under the arm and wrap it over the L upper arm. Pass the free end under the diagonal and pull it down to the R, diagonally, under R arm, over R upper arm and under the second diagonal. Bring free end to small of back and wrap the wrists as in previous, 2 or 3 times. Pass the free end through from L to R. For all three of these, the back is the side for display. The front shows very little rope: only a single loop each at the neck and around each upper arm.


Kakine Musubi (fence knot)

Motoyui / Motoi or Koyori

This is what the 9 and 15cm ropes are called. Motoyui / motoi is a paper cord for tying up ones hair. Koyori is a twisted paper cord. The two examples on the left utilise the cords.




Tying with Koyori

Using Koyori or Motoi the thumbs are tied together around the base.


Jumonji (cross)

Kotezuri (catching the forearm)

For all three of these, the back is the side for display. The front shows very little rope: only a single loop each at the neck and around each upper arm. Some of you may also be interested in another obscure corner of Japanese history I've done a little research into: official methods of torture under the Tokugawa Shogunate. But before you click on the link just given, which will take you to the article, be forewarned: I wrote it for a column I contribute monthly to a gay men's SM website. So don't be surprised at what you find. If you're shocked by such things, stay away! References (English translation of citation follows original Japanese) Nawa Yumio (1964) "Studies in Jitte and Torinawa" Tokyo: Yuzankaku Shuppan Nawa Yumio (1985) "An Illustrated Encyclopedia for Historical Studies: Constables' Tools" Tokyo: Shinjinbutsu Orai-sha


by Richard Cleaver (c) JANUARY 1999 I've been whiling away the long winter nights recently by reading about traditional forms of bondage and torture in Japan. Some of the information I've found about rope bondage is posted here. I've actually been looking into the subject for a while, but I've held off writing about it for a couple of reasons. The first was I wanted to get the historical picture clear enough in my mind to have some confidence I wasn't giving new life to old falsehoods. The second was that I find myself a bit concerned that I'm feeding into old racist stereotypes about Dr. Fu Manchu and his "fiendish Oriental tortures." There's enough racist nonsense about Japan being published in the pages of the New York Times without my adding to it here. Still and all, there's nothing in what you're about to read that any ordinary Japanese reader couldn't find in any public library, which is where I got it after all. All this information is from Japanese historical sources, so all I'm doing is summarizing recent scholarship for those who can't read Japanese. If that sounds rather dry and schoolmasterish, well, what you see is what you get, and you get what you pay for. I assure you, though, when I was reading this stuff I was hard most of the time. I daresay I'm not far wrong if I guess that those of you visiting this site and reading this column will be equally able to turn history into pornography. Didn't we all start out beating off to National Geographic? But let's get down to business. First a little background. Torture was used during the Edo Period (1603-1867) both by officials of the Tokugawa Shogunate (in Japanese "Bakufu" which I will use for convenience hereafter) Bakufu and by private persons. The better part of the information about the former comes from the procedures of the Edo (the old name for Tokyo) machi-bugyo or city commissioners. There were machibugyo in other cities besides these two Shizuoka, where I live, had one, since it was under direct Tokugawa rule, not a vassal lord. The two Edo machi-bugyo combined judicial and


administrative responsibilities for the commoners of the city. They had a variety of law enforcement bodies under them, among them the regular constabulary and a special arson and robbery squad. The constabulary consisted of two levels of officials, joriki and doshin. The joriki were essentially the officer class of police, with some bureaucratic duties as well, sort of like police detectives in the U.S. The doshin, who were directly under the joriki, were constables. Both posts were filled, often father to son, by members of the very lowest stratum of the samurai class. There were fifty joriki and at most 280 doshin (divided between the two magistracies) for the entire city of Edo , which by 1730 had over a million people, although the machi-bugyo had jurisdiction over only about half the population. This last fact is why anybody could make an arrest. The declaration "go-yo!" (with the second syllable prolonged), literally something like "official business," was equivalent to "you're under arrest." The person making the arrest was supposed to conduct the suspect to the nearest guardhouse, of which there was theoretically one for each neighborhood. Besides this system of "citizen's arrests," there were several private assistants employed directly by the doshin. As a practical matter, these people were the ones who did most of the work, often on their own account rather than the authorities'. Many of these okappiki or meakashi were former criminals who had been coopted to share their inside knowledge with the police. The system apparently goes back all the way to the Heian period (roughly 800-1200), when criminals would be led around town roped together in a line to point out others of their kind, in order to lighten their own punishments. The risk of such assistants working both ends against the middle is obvious, and in theory their employment was forbidden. But in practice, they outnumbered the official police. The meakashi were allowed to conduct torture and there were no rules for this. The Bakufu did lay down rules limiting the use of torture in official proceedings. This was a great improvement over previous eras where might more or less made right. The rub was, official proceedings were almost never conducted unless there was every reason to believe the suspect would confess publicly at them usually because the confession had already been obtained, written out, and sealed before the offical trial began. (This is still true today.) Failure to obtain such a public confession was thought to bring the government into disrepute. Naturally, the professed ideal was to obtain the confession without the use of torture by questioning alone, skill at which was a point of pride; but there's no real way of knowing how often this standard was even aimed at, much less met. If it wasn't, then torture was the only way to get the required confession, and that was its major purpose. In official proceedings, there were four levels of torture, the two lowest being regarded as ordinary, the highest as extraordinary, and the one in between as well, in between. They were, from lowest to highest: flogging; pressing with stones; the Prawn; and suspension. Although ranked in this fashion, they usually were used in combination, going back and forth until a confession was obtained. Each level could be pursued up to a named point: a certain period of time, or a certain number of strokes, or the like. If this failed to obtain results, either the technique would be tried again after a given interval (often two days) or a different one would be tried. Any and all of these tortures were used on women as well as men; but I've used masculine pronouns here because that's who I'd want to be working over myself. (1) Flogging. This was done with the suspect kneeling and bound around his upper arms. Two stout ropes were also held taut by a pair of assistants on either side, or in front of and behind, the suspect. A special scourge was used, called a shimoto or muchi (the latter is a generic word for any kind of whip or scourge). The shimoto was something over eighteen inches long, and tapered. At the thick end it was three or more inches in diameter, and at the narrow end (the handle) it was about half an inch. It consisted of a pair of bamboos laid side by side and wrapped lengthwise in hempen cloth, around


which hemp twine was wrapped (crosswise) the whole length of the instrument. About five inches at the narrow end were wrapped in white leather to form a grip. Some drawings show the business end of the shimoto exposed with the bamboo shredded for about an inch down, like a brush, presumably to make it hurt more. I don't have any information about the thickness of the bamboos at the core of this instrument, nor how much cloth was used; but it appears from the pictures that the shimoto had some give rather than being rigid. One drawing I saw, taken from an old source, has the outer twine wrapping applied in the same elegant way as the silken wrapping around the hilt of a samurai sword; but all the rest of the pictures show a simple whipping-on of the twine. This scourge was used to beat the suspect on his shoulders or back until the blood flowed, at which point an assistant would rub sand into the wound to stop the bleeding. Then the beating would be continued at another spot on the back, lower down. Flogging was also used as a punishment for convicted criminals, in which case it was administered with a long rod, not the scourge described above, and the convict was laid face down and spreadeagled on the ground, with all four limbs held securely. Again the beating was administered on the back, the person carrying out the punishment usually standing at the convict's head (at least this is the arrangement in old drawings). (2) Pressing. This torture, literally "embracing the stones," was carried out with the suspect kneeling. In some pictures, he kneels on a corrugated surface like an exaggerated washboard, with pointed ridges. His arms were tied behind, somtimes to a post of the building. Large square slabs of stone, about an inch thick, were then laid one after another on the tops of the suspect's thighs. This simple but excruciating torture was usually alternated with beating, though they were on occasion carried out simultaneously. It was said to be nearly foolproof in obtaining a confession. (3) The Prawn. In cases where the previous two levels of torture failed, however, the Prawn was used. This was also sometimes called "the football," from the shape of the person after being tied up. First the suspect's hands were tied behind his back, with a rope going around the upper arms, the forearms placed on top of each other, the wrists bound together. Next he was forced to sit cross-legged. His ankles were bound together, and the two ends of the rope then brought up and over his shoulders, where they were looped through the rope binding his arms. Then, the torturer would use his foot to press down on the suspect's back, forcing his chest down toward his crossed calves, at the same time pulling up on the ropes and thus raising the suspects feet off the ground. When the suspect was doubled over as far as physically possible, and a little farther, the second rope was tied off on the first. Then they waited. There were two explanations for the name "prawn." One was that the suspect was bent over like a lobster or prawn. The other was that after a short time in this position, the person turned red. In fact, there was a sequence of colors when the torture lasted for several hours: first red, then purple, then violet, then pale blue. The latter stage was the signal for the torture to end, if the pain had not already produced a confession long since. Continuing once the pale blue stage was reached resulted in death. Sometimes flogging was administered at the same time. Sometimes the victim was rolled around. It was said that some suspects, after their first experience of the Prawn, were in pain for days afterwards, although the same sources indicate that repeated applications of the torture brought diminishing returns. (Feel the bum!) A variation on this was "the prawn in a box," which was just what the name implies: after being trussed up like a football, the person was put into a wooden box. (4) Suspension. This was regarded as a last resort. It was carried out by tying the suspect's arms behind, and then suspending him by the wrists from above. A variation was to suspend the


suspect upside down by the ankles; but apparently the wrists were more usual. Some drawings show the suspect suspended by the arms alone, while others show a kind of rope girdle around the waist and abdomen to distribute the weight somewhat. For an especially reluctant suspect, a large stone weight might be laid on the shoulders. As with the previous two tortures, suspension might be accompanied by flogging. All four of these approved tortures were administered under the eye of clerks who made an official record of the proceedings, and all were confined within certain limits to make sure permanent damage or death did not result. On the other hand, as I've said, there were no rules or limits on the use of torture outside official proceedings. The Edo period wasn't quite as lawless as the chambara movies (samurai swashbucklers) would have us believe; in fact it was made a crime in this period for a samurai to cut down a commoner just to test his sword blade, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. (The fact that it kept on being punished, of course, suggests that it kept on happening; and local vassal lords had their own legal systems.) The Bakufu authorities weren't human rights fanatics, though. They just wanted to keep the lid on the use of violence. Still, there was plenty of torture outside the strict letter of the law, and plenty of techniques besides the ones I've described here. In closing I'll just pass on one, mainly because it's a local product: Suruga-doi. Suruga was the old name for this province of Japan, and the large bay I can see outside my window as I sit at my old Mac writing these columns is still called Suruga Bay. Toi (in combination doi) means "inquiry." Apparently this particular form of "inquiry" was invented by a local machi-bugyo sometime in the 250-odd years of Tokugawa rule. The "Suruga inquiry" consists of tying the prisoner's four limbs together behind his back in a bundle, suspending him from the ceiling by this single rope, and placing progressively heavier weights in the middle of his back. Sometimes he would be made to twist in the air at the end of his rope, too. Said to be unfailing in getting answers. Kiddies, don't try this at home!


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