(that's rokushaku on the left, etchū on the right, and mokko in the middle)
1. Rokushaku fundoshi is what this site is mostly concerned with. This is the oldest form of fundoshi, worn in Japan for over 1,000 years by everyone from farmers and pearl-divers to samurai and emperors! A rokushaku fundoshi is the first layer of any proper Japanese attire, yet is also considered "fully clothed" when worn all by itself -- underscoring the very different ideals of body consciousness and shame between Eastern and Western cultures.
|the picture above is from a poster advertising the taiko group KODO.|
The Irezumi (or Hoimono) style of tattooing is ideally shown off by a fundoshi.
2. Etchū fundoshi is a vastly simplified style of fundoshi, a much shorter piece of cloth with ties that go around the waist for a garment with easy, comfy freedom. This is probably the most common contemporary style -- you can buy etchū fundoshi in all sorts of fashion prints, and they have recently caught on as ladies' undergarments too -- no doubt for their amazing comfort. It's the next best thing to "going commando" and won't bunch up like boxer shorts. Light as a feather and barely there at all. Also, etchū fundoshi provides more coverage in the back, so it can be more modest if you are in mixed company, although it is not ideal for swimming or sports.
See the Help & Tips tab for a video that shows how to wear etchū fundoshi, and below are some helpful diagrams and pictures:
(not kidding, etchū style is amazingly comfortable -- and if you or someone you know has a little sewing skill, extremely easy to make.)
3. Mokko fundoshi is a sort of hybrid of the other two styles -- it ties on like an etchū fundoshi but has some of the appearance of a rokushaku fundoshi. This is the one that looks closest to Western-style underwear -- not a far cry from bikini briefs -- but is far more comfortable and classy. And unlike rokushaku fundoshi, mokko and etchū styles can be made of silk, satin, or other fabrics that lack the texture necessary for a rokushaku fundoshi to stay tied, so they can be quite luxurious!