Gallery & Links

Below are some pictures to help you see what a well-tied, traditional rokushaku fundoshi looks like. 
Don't worry too much about the "right" or "wrong" way to tie your fundoshi -- there are many regional variations, comfort is key, and practice is fun!  If it seems too bulky, too loose, or too tight, try a new method. Try a different fabric.  You can google search fundoshi, rokushaku, (which is the kanji for fundoshi), 六尺褌 (which is the kanji for rokushaku fundoshi), or ふんどし (which is a more informal style of kanji) for lots more information and photos.  A lot of it is in Japanese, but a fair amount is in English.  Fundoshi are similar to shimekomi and mawashi, although these names refer specifically to the outfits of sumo wrestling, which are heavier-duty fabric wrapped in a very specific way.  

Fundoshi are worn publicly at festivals called Hadaka Matsuri (祭り or 裸祭り), which are Shinto winter purification festivities where thousands of loincloth-clad young men compete and scramble after shingi -- good luck sticks tossed into the steaming crowds. The first fundoshi I ever saw was in National Geographic magazine -- you can send it to your friends as a postcard!

Check YouTube or Vimeo for some helpful videos.  You can find fundoshi for sale all over the internet, but I highly recommend making your own -- it's easy, cheap, sustainable, and fun! Plus you can express yourself with any color or pattern you can find! 

The cloth traditionally used is called Sarashi, however I find that this "Island Breeze Cotton Gauze" is an inexpensive and comfortable alternative. You'll need 3-4 yards, depending on your waist measurement (any extra fabric can be trimmed off). 3-4 yards of cloth, torn lengthwise into strips 8-12 inches wide will yield 4 or 5 fundoshis!

Click the Help & Tips link at the top of this page for some different diagrams, videos, and written instructions.

Fundoshi are comfortable and secure.  Tied right, you could do something extremely active (i.e. swimming, water skiing, or rock climbing.)  Fundoshi are also very comfortable for lounging around or leisure activities, sunning, saunas. Fundoshi are perfect if you have latex or elastic allergies that prevent you from wearing conventional underwear.

Despite their sensuous look (to Western eyes), fundoshi were once an everyday sight in Japan.  As undergarments, they have been surpassed commercially in the last century by Western-style undies -- but there is still one very important difference:  fundoshi represent purity and freedom from shame in its parent culture, and are a far cry from the "unmentionables" that we hide away beneath our jeans and skirts.  No one would dream of wearing underwear to a festival -- only fundoshi would be considered proper attire.

At one time, it would have been completely ordinary to see fishermen, swimmers, dock workers, and farmers wearing fundoshi.  The minimal coverage of the fundoshi was extremely practical for hard work and Japan's humid summers. Fundoshi provides support, keeps the genitals contained and out of harms way, and wicks moisture away from the body.

Europeans in Japan, however, deemed fundoshi an immodest garment (which must have baffled its native wearers) because it showed the buttocks -- taboo in Western nations.  The fundoshi stopped being a common sight in public, except at annual Shinto festivals (Hadaka Matsuri), which frequently took place in winter.  Tests of endurance as well as celebrations of life and good fortune and outpourings of joy, these Matsuri required only fundoshi, tabi socks, and a headband.  Since clothing could often be a symbol of rank, wearing only fundoshi renders every participant equal.

Besides at Hadaka Matsuri, one common contemporary sighting of fundoshi is on the hips of the mighty taiko drummers of fiercely physically fit drumming groups like Kodo and Za Ondekoza:

In contemporary media, fundoshi can often be glimpsed as "fanservice" -- basically, where readers or viewers get to see a favorite character in their underwear.  You might see a fair number of fundoshi in the often violent Yakuza-themed crime genre movies.

Another contemporary place where fundoshi are frequently seen is in manga and anime, especially in story lines that take place in the past, i.e. medieval Japan.  In Hiyao Miyazaki's famous anime film Princess Mononoke, Prince Ashitaka wears a fundoshi when he fords a river with his trusty red elk Yakul, carrying the rest of his clothing safe and dry on his head. In a historical or even a fantasy setting, the fundoshi symbolizes manliness and vigor, and usually unpretentiousness too.

Perhaps you've seen Samurai Jack in his fundoshi on Cartoon Network?

So, although the fundoshi may seem exotic, it's a garment born of practicality.  Although it may look complicated, it helps to know it's just a single length of cloth, tied around your hips and between your legs with a simple set of twists. Easier than tying a necktie.

The fundoshi has been around almost 1,200 years -- that's saying something!

Modern underwear has only been around about 100 years.