The other day I was at a Yakitori restaurant in Roppongi just below the C’est Bien shop (run by the Mistress Bar empire). It used to be one of the customary stops with Osada Steve (長田スティーブ) on our way to Roppongi Jail.
I was rather startled to suddenly see Osada Steve himself appearing in front of me, saying he saw me through the window. The bill was promptly settled and five minutes later we landed in Jail, so to speak . . .
At the bar we encountered Oda Hisashi (織田久先生), the owner of the nationwide Jail empire. Steve and Oda-sensei are going back a long time and were soon reminiscing about the old days when Oda Hisashi was a regular at Studio SIX to enjoy grandmaster Osada Eikichi’s (長田英吉, 1925 to 2001) live shows.
After Osada sensei collapsed one night on stage, he spent almost a year in a home for the elderly. It was during that time when Oda Hisashi took a leading role as emissary and advisor on keeping the Osada lineage alive by promoting Steve (at that time going by the name of Dr D Vice) to become the officially designated successor to the Osada empire. Asked why he had staked his reputation on routing for Steve he replied that Steve had “heart”. “Heart is something rare and special in shibari. You can’t be taught it, you can’t buy it, you can’t beg for it. Either you have it or you don’t; and Steve had it.” He also said that Steve struck him as the most likely person to keep the Osada name alive. “Steve is a guy who knows the spirit of budo – that’s very rare to find among Japanese these days. Just look at the ever-increasing number of sport riggers.”
When I asked Steve later what a sport rigger was, he explained that as the pyramid grows at the bottom the percentage of people who don’t know what they are doing increases as more and more people do shibari because it’s “cool”; and not because of any particular deep conviction or “heart”.
Now, according to Steve, all he ever wanted was tie up pretty women, but through the untimely departure of his mentor and benefactor he was gently nudged into becoming the successor of Osada Eikichi; an event that was sealed and officially ratified at a special Memorial Event in Roppongi Jail in November, 2001; attended by the who is who of the shibari world, including Akechi Denki (明智伝鬼).
Coincidentally, I had just come across the August 1999 issue of Speculum, a magazine rather hard to find, with a prominent feature on Oda Hisashi and the Kansai SM world. As coincidences keep piling up, Oda Hisashi is also featured in this month’s Mania Club, published by Sanwa Shuppan.
Oda Hisashi is one of those guys who have been around for decades. He helped Steve break into large stages in Osaka and around the country, and taught Steve a lot about shows. According to Steve he never saw him drive the same car or wear the same brand-name watch twice. It’s hard to say how large his fleet is, but by latest count he owns six Porsche cars.
Walking back into the Tokyo night I told Osada Steve about an interview of Akechi Denki (明智伝鬼) by Randa Mai (乱田舞) in the same August 1999 issue of Speculum, and promised to translate and share this here on TokyoBound.