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Fundoshi

Fundoshi

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is the traditional Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese undergarment
Undergarment
Undergarments or underwear are clothes worn under other clothes, often next to the skin. They keep outer garments from being soiled by bodily secretions and discharges, shape the body, and provide support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional...

 for adult males, made from a length of cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

. Before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the fundoshi was the main form of underwear for Japanese adult males. However it fell out of use quickly after the war with the introduction of new underwear to the Japanese market, such as briefs
Briefs
Briefs are a type of short, tight underwear and swimwear, as opposed to styles where the material extends down the legs.In the case of men's underwear, briefs, unlike boxer shorts, hold the wearer's genitals in a relatively fixed position, which make briefs a popular underwear choice for men who...

 and trunks
Boxer briefs
Boxer briefs are a type of men's undergarment which are long in the leg, like boxer shorts but tighter-fitting, like briefs; a hybrid between the two main types of male underwear in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States. Depending on the manufacturer, boxer briefs may also be...

.

Nowadays, the fundoshi is mainly used not as underwear but as festival (matsuri) clothing at Hadaka Matsuri
Hadaka Matsuri
A is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth , sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. Whatever the clothing, it is considered to be above vulgar, or everyday, undergarments, and on...

 or, sometimes, as swimwear.

There are several types of fundoshi, including rokushaku, kuroneko, mokko and etchū.

The rokushaku fundoshi is a length of cloth, the dimensions being one shaku (34 cm / 14 inches) wide and six shaku (2.3 m / 92 to 96 inches) long; roku is Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 for six, hence roku-shaku. The fundoshi is often twisted to create a thong
Thong (clothing)
The thong is a garment generally worn as either underwear or as a swimsuit in many industrialized societies around the world. It may also be worn for traditional ceremonies or competitions such as sumo wrestling...

 effect at the back.

Etchū fundoshi is also a length of cloth, however it has a strip of material at the waist to form a fastening or string. The dimensions are 14 inches width by about 40 inches length, and it is tied with the material strip in front of the body. Etchū fundoshi was the form of fundoshi most popular among Japanese adult males as underwear from early 1900s to the end of World War II.

Cultural Difference from the West



Japanese boys and men feel comfortable in traditional thong-type wear that shows the buttocks in public, such as the Fundoshi (besides underwear, also used as swimsuit) or the sumo wrestling equivalent.

The typically masculine Japanese idiom fundoshi o shimete kakaru (tighten your loincloth) means the same as the English phrase "roll up your sleeves" — in other words, get ready for some hard work.

Even cold winter weather doesn't prevent Japanese men from walking around outside in fundoshi. Especially if it is the third Saturday of February, as this is the date of Okayama's annual Hadaka Matsuri
Hadaka Matsuri
A is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth , sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. Whatever the clothing, it is considered to be above vulgar, or everyday, undergarments, and on...

 (Naked Festival). Even in the coldest weather, up to 10,000 men will strip down to fundoshi and run through the streets in this traditional test of manhood. For over 400 years, men have been doing this in Okayama
Okayama, Okayama
is the capital city of Okayama Prefecture in the Chūgoku region of Japan.The city was founded on June 1, 1889. As of August 2010, the city has an estimated population of 705,224 and a population density of 893 persons per km². The total area is 789.88 km²....

.

Types and uses


The fundoshi is first mentioned in the classic Japanese history text the Nihongi
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical...

. They are also depicted on clay figures, haniwa. The fundoshi was the underwear of choice of every Japanese adult male, rich or poor, high or low status, until after the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when Americanization
Americanization
Americanization is the influence of the United States on the popular culture, technology, business practices, or political techniques of other countries. The term has been used since at least 1907. Inside the U.S...

 popularized elasticized underpants.

The fundoshi comes in several basic styles. The most relaxed type consists in a strip of cloth, wound around the hips, secured at the small of the back by knotting or twisting, with the excess brought forward between the legs, and tucked through the cloth belt in front to hang as an apron
Apron
An apron is an outer protective garment that covers primarily the front of the body. It may be worn for hygienic reasons as well as in order to protect clothes from wear and tear. The apron is commonly part of the uniform of several work categories, including waitresses, nurses, and domestic...

.

The second style, for people who are active, is formed when the cloth is wound around the hips so that there is an excess of apron, which is brought back again between the legs and twisted around the belt-cloth in back. It was also the standard male bathing suit. Male children learning to swim (during the early 1960s) were often told to wear this kind of fundoshi because a boy in trouble could be easily lifted out of the water by the back cloth of his fundoshi.

The third style, called Etchū
Etchu Province
was an old province in central Honshū, on the Sea of Japan side. It was sometimes called , with Echizen and Echigo Provinces. It bordered Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto provinces...

 fundoshi
, which originated in the vicinity of Toyama Prefecture
Toyama Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Hokuriku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Toyama.Toyama is the leading industrial prefecture on the Japan Sea coast, and has the industrial advantage of cheap electricity due to abundant water resources....

, is a long rectangle of cloth with tapes at one narrow end. One ties the tapes around the hips, with the cloth at the small of the back, and then pulls the cloth between the legs and through the belt, letting the remainder hang as an apron. Such fundoshi were issued to Japanese troops in World War II, and often were the sole garb of Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 POWs
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 in tropic areas.

There are many other varieties of fundoshi as the variations on the principle of a loincloth are almost infinite. For example, the mokko-fundoshi (literally "earth-basket loincloth" because it looks like the traditional baskets used in construction), is made like the etchyuu-fundoshi but without a front apron; the cloth is secured to the belt to make a bikini effect. The kuro-neko fundoshi (literally "black cat fundoshi") is like the mokko-fundoshi except that the portion that passes from front to back is tailored to create a thong effect.

The samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 (military elite) wore it as underwear with armor, combined with a shitagi
Shitagi
can refer to one of two things in Japanese culture:* a type of shirt donned by Samurai when they are wearing full armour. It is the second garment to be put on, coming second only to the Fundoshi, the Japanese loincloth. There are several different types of shitagi...

shirt.

Fundoshi are often worn with a hanten
Hanten
, a short winter coat, is an item of traditional Japanese clothing. The coat started to be worn, especially by the common people, in the 18th century during the Edo period....

or happi
Happi
Happi is a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat usually made of indigo or brown cotton and imprinted with a distinctive mon . They are usually worn only to festivals. Originally, these represented the crest of a family, as happi were worn by house servants. Later, the coats commonly began to...

(a short cotton jacket with straight sleeves) during summer festivals by men who carry mikoshi
Mikoshi
A is a divine palanquin . Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle to transport a deity in Japan while moving between main shrine and temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine...

(portable shrines) in Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 processions.

Outside Japan it is perhaps best known from the drumming groups Ondekoza
Ondekoza
, sometimes referred to as "Za Ondekoza", is a Japanese troupe specializing in taiko drumming.Founded in 1969 by Den Tagayasu, in Sado island, Japan. Ondekoza was influential in the rise of the kumi-daiko style of taiko...

 and Kodo
Kodo (taiko group)
is a professional taiko drumming troupe. Based on Sado Island, Japan, they have had a role in popularizing taiko drumming, both in Japan and abroad...

, who appear dressed in only a white fundoshi and a head band.

Sumo
Sumo
is a competitive full-contact sport where a wrestler attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally...

 wrestlers also wear a form of this garment, mawashi
Mawashi
In sumo, a mawashi is the belt that the rikishi wears during training or in competition. Upper ranked professional wrestlers wear a keshō-mawashi as part of the ring entry ceremony or dohyo-iri.-Mawashi:...

.

Fundoshi are sometimes used as traditional swimsuit
Swimsuit
A swimsuit, bathing suit, or swimming costume is an item of clothing designed to be worn by men, women or children while they are engaging in a water-based activity or water sports, such as swimming, water polo, diving, surfing, water skiing, or during activities in the sun, such as sun bathing.A...

s. In some high schools, boys swim wearing fundoshi. The present Crown Prince of Japan
Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan
is the eldest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, which makes him the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan.-Early life and education:...

 also swam in fundoshi in his childhood. In the pools and beaches of Japan, fundoshi-wearing swimmers occasionally can be seen.

In late 2008 the Japanese firm, Wacoal, began marketing fundoshi for women and have had greater than expected sales. The loincloths for women come in seven different colors and two designs—plain and chequered. Prices are about 1,260 yen ($13).

The best material for this is a white linen or white cotton. Silk crepe may be used according to one's taste, but plain silk is not suitable. In winter it may be lined with similar material, but in other seasons it is always single. Both ends (or front and back) are hemmed to put cords through. One of the cords forms a loop to suspend the front end from the neck, and the other secures the back end by being tied in the front. The length of the fundoshi is about 5 feet (5 shaku).

See also


  • Loincloth
    Loincloth
    A loincloth is a one-piece male garment, sometimes kept in place by a belt, which covers the genitals and, at least partially, the buttocks.-History and types:Loincloths are being and have been worn:*in societies where no other clothing is needed or wanted...

  • Breechcloth
    Breechcloth
    A breechcloth, or breechclout, is a form of loincloth consisting in a strip of material – usually a narrow rectangle – passed between the thighs and held up in front and behind by a belt or string. Often, the flaps hang down in front and back.- Native Americans :In most Native American...

  • Kaupina
    Kaupina
    Kaupina is the Sanskrit name for an Indian form of male underclothing. It is often translated as loincloth. In form, it is a rectangular piece of cloth with a horizontal thread at one end for binding it around the waist of the wearer. It has religious significance attached to asceticism for the...

  • Hadaka Matsuri
    Hadaka Matsuri
    A is a type of Japanese festival, or matsuri, in which participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth , sometimes with a short happi coat, and rarely completely naked. Whatever the clothing, it is considered to be above vulgar, or everyday, undergarments, and on...

     (Naked festival, 裸祭り)
  • List of Japanese clothing
  • Ondekoza
    Ondekoza
    , sometimes referred to as "Za Ondekoza", is a Japanese troupe specializing in taiko drumming.Founded in 1969 by Den Tagayasu, in Sado island, Japan. Ondekoza was influential in the rise of the kumi-daiko style of taiko...

  • Kodo (taiko group)
    Kodo (taiko group)
    is a professional taiko drumming troupe. Based on Sado Island, Japan, they have had a role in popularizing taiko drumming, both in Japan and abroad...


External links