10 December 2009

Fundoshi 4 All! returns to the internet!

Fundoshi 4 All! is essentially an awareness campaign -- celebrating the fundoshi, Japan's simple, elegant knotted loincloth.

There has never been a better, more sensuous male undergarment. You can make your own simply by tearing a lightweight, soft fabric into strips. The strips should be 10-14 inches wide, and at least 96 inches long (or three times your waist measurement, whichever is greater.) An old, soft bed sheet, or three yards of muslin, cotton, or sheer fabric works the best.

There are three major types of fundoshi -- rokushaku, etchū, and mokko. All are of interest here, though I'll probably spend the most time writing about rokushaku fundoshi.

I should say that I'm not Japanese -- I'm European and American. So I don't have a cultural connection to fundoshi, and I hope that doesn't offend anyone who does. I first learned of fundoshi from a Time-Life photograph I saw when I was young of a Hadaka Matsuri ("naked festival") in Japan -- one of many winter festivals where men strip down to only a fundoshi and compete in huge throngs for luck and prestige. These are Shinto festivals in origin, and still take place yearly, although outside of that fundoshi are not as commonplace as they once were.

There was a time when the elites and the peasants had one item in common -- their fundoshi. This was the basic clothing of the workers and farmers, and wearing a fundoshi alone was considered being fully dressed. In the past half-century, much has changed. Briefs are now much more common, and although fundoshi are making a resurgent comeback in the past few years, for a while they were in decline and sometimes even negatively associated with militarism.

I'm glossing over a lot of history here, but I hope this blog will be around for a long time, so we'll fill in the blanks as time goes on. I apologize if I show any ignorance or if there are inaccuracies in this blog, and pledge to address any such issues that crop up.

In it's most basic form, rokushaku fundoshi is simply a strip of cloth that is wound around the legs and waist to form a knotted belt and a pouch that contains the genitals. The fundoshi is supportive and secure, ideal for martial arts or athletics, and for centuries it was the male swimwear of Japan. Not a chance a well-tied fundoshi will ever come off, and it even tightens slightly when wet, becoming even more secure. If anyone is in doubt that fundoshi are comfortable -- they are! Like anything it takes a little getting used to and some practice learning to tie your fundoshi.

So what's the purpose of this blog? Well, first off, information on the fundoshi outside Japan is (like the fundoshi itself) minimal. I hope to create a sort of clearing house for information, links, pictures and video dealing with fundoshi. Wearing fundoshi is great! It feels good, it looks good, and it's an exquisitely simple garment that blends the utilitarian with the sensual, the modest with the extroverted. As such, Westerners with our history of puritanism have a tendency to reduce fundoshi to a fetish object -- just one more thing we can incorporate into sexual dramas and fantasies, to hide and regard with shame and embarassment. Loincloths, in general, have been transformed from garments of necessity into markers of perceived "primitivism." I won't pretend that a sexy allure and kink possibilities of fundoshi don't exist -- in fact some of my posts may make you warm and squirmy! This blog is generally not something you're going to want to read at work. However a single-minded focus on only the lustful side of fundoshi would mean the full story of this amazing garment, which has survived over 1,000 years and is truly the "original menswear" would be overlooked.

It would also make me a cultural opportunist -- in much the same way that the Native American loincloth has all but disappeared from everything but the fantasies of non-natives. Check out the romance section of your local bookstore if you want numerous examples of milky-skinned frontier daughters swept up in the arms of muscly, strangely European looking braves. So with that awareness at heart, I intend to talk about history, culture, modesty issues, and practical matters that accompany wearing fundoshi -- from my outsider's curiosity, enjoying the discoveries, puzzling through unfamiliar aspects, and yes, even giving in to my sensuous side and indulging in some occasional erotica.

Fundoshi are a distinctly male item of dress. Although women in fundoshi are an item of puerile interest both inside and outside Japan, it's really an item of dress created with the male anatomy in mind. My own interest lies mostly with wearing fundoshi and seeing it on myself or sharing it with my girlfriend, but I also enjoy finding stories and pictures about others who wear fundoshi. This has caused me some thoughtful moments, as I Google search images of mostly-naked men and stumble into fetish and porn sites. Obviously, the American fear of/fascination with nudity is playing out in my mind: I'm a straight man, but my keen interest in all things fundoshi may indulge a latent bi portion of my sexuality. I suppose that's an unavoidable truth. Another unavoidable truth, however, is that in contemporary American society, any exposure of the male body at all invokes deep-seated taboos and nervous condemnations.

Although no one gives a second thought to women browsing fellow scantily clad females in, say, the Victoria's Secret catalog, straight men are not allowed any such variance. We have to be manly in every aspect of life, from an obligatory interest in sports to a feigned ignorance of underwear aesthetics. That narrowing of experience, I think, drives a lot of people's sexual confusion and/or intolerance. Well, fundoshi is the original Calvin Klein tighty whiteys -- displaying the male anatomy to the best possible advantage, protecting modesty even as it draws attention to the anatomical root of all masculinity, outlined in it's fabric.

In my own life, I like how fundoshi feels against my skin, and underneath my clothes. I own many different colors of fundoshi (though white is the traditional color, I also have orange, blue, and green fundoshi.) I like tying a fundoshi on, and I really like it when my partner pulls me to her and unwraps me from my fundoshi. Male-male sex isn't for me, however I'll stop short of ever claiming I find it disgusting or unnatural. I don't. I believe every adult on Earth owns the right to sexual expression and enjoyment. I'm privileged that my heterosexual relationship is 100% tolerated and encouraged by society. Tons of commercial products, movies, books, and music cater to my preferences. Others are not so lucky.

Frankly, I hope both females and males enjoy reading this blog. I hope lots of people try fundoshi out. I hope some readers are straight, I hope some are gay, I hope some are both -- and I hope all are tolerant and respectful of one another. I don't really want to belabor this, but I feel it's important that it be explicitly said. I dealt with some censorship of the Fundoshi 4 All! pages on MySpace and Facebook, so I voluntarily deleted them. Let's see how things work out here on Blogger. Ultimately, it would be great if fundoshi could be worn at beaches or resorts -- nothing beats it as swimwear or sunwear. I hope couples discover the fundoshi and incorporate it into their lives together. I hope everyone from fashion designers to anarchists notice the fundoshi and utilize it in their work and life as they see fit.

Hey, some people just want to give the world a Coke. I'm aiming a little higher (lower??): I want to give the world a fundoshi.

There are a lot of pros and few cons to wearing fundoshi, not the least of which is that one 3-yard piece of cloth from the fabric store will yield you 7-8 fundoshis. So in purely economic terms, fundoshi is probably the best underwear money you can spend! I wear fundoshi at least three times a week underneath my street clothes, frequently when I'm sleeping, massaging my girlfriend, exercising or working around the house.

While we're on the subject, fundoshi is a healthy part of my personal and fantasy life -- but I don't care to be flirted with or share intimate details with anyone that I haven't already shared right in the body of the blog itself. I'm in a happily committed relationship and everyone on the other side of my computer monitor is just electrons. Make your own fantasies! By all means share your fantasies, experiences, pictures and links with other readers of Fundoshi 4 All!, just kindly refrain from directing anything other than honest questions or simple, respectful friendship in my direction. Thanks!

I hope you enjoy this site. My guess is, if you are reading this you are at least interested -- for yourself or perhaps for your partner. Or for your vegetarian commune. Or for your Halloween costume. I don't know, really -- why you're interested is completely up to you!

Coming soon: instructions in how to make and wear your own fundoshi!

I sincerely hope you enjoy wearing and learning about fundoshi.

- Ryan


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back - my favourite site.
BTW, on your youtube site, there is a "private" video. How can one view it?

Fundoshi 4 All! said...

Brienne, thank you! Nice to be back. Things weren't really working out on MySpace and Facebook, it just seemed kind of silly and there were a couple incidents of censorship.

That video on the Youtube channel was marked private by it's maker. He didn't want some of his coworkers and friends finding it, so unfortunately there' no way to view it. Which is too bad, it was a good instructional video on tying a fundoshi.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ryan,

I think I like fundoshi as much as you do! I like to wear it high at the back (waist level not across the buttocks) and low a the front (approx the width of 4 fingers below the belly button). I like cotton fabrics with a slub for a bit of textural interest but I got the american apparel one you mentioned and it is nice too.
I would love to swim at the pool in fundoshi, do tai chi class in fundoshi, go for a run in fundoshi and my fear is that I will do it one day and get arrested for indecent exposure!
Pity we have to deal with the prudishness of our society.
So where does that leave us?
You are the only other person I know of who wears fundoshi.
I am not sure what i would do if I met others - start a group perhaps????
For a straight man it would be hard but for a gay man like me there are occasions like pool parties, underwear parties, mardi gras where you could wear it. Even in Japan there are gay bars where the dress code is strictly fundoshi only.
Do you have an ambition to go to Japan and participate in one of the naked man festivals perhaps???

Anyway , I am glad you are there and look forward to more of your posts.


Fundoshi 4 All! said...

I think you'll find lots of people enjoy fundoshi -- straight, gay, or bisexual. They just have yet to come out of the woodwork, so to speak. Part of the purpose of this blog is to inspire a little confidence in others. Everyone loves to show off what they've got, and fundoshi are great for that.

kaipo said...

i'm from europe and i love to wear fundoshi.
i saw way to wrap it,

but don't know how it's done. that leaves me to do it the easy way

Fundoshi 4 All! said...

check our "Simple Wearing Instructions" at the top of the page!

Anonymous said...

Wearing fundoshi is a great fun. I like the simplicity of the lioncloth..

mason said...

ahahaah id like to try wearing the fundoshi...looks like fun

Anonymous said...

I am a recent convert but I can't think of anything more comfortable and secure to wear. I wear one when doing yard work, relaxing around the house or just as regular underwear. It's sexy and very comfortable, especially on a hot day. It's also great for jumping into the pool. It's just hard to beat the simplicity.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this. Thanks for the info.

Fundoshi 4 All! said...

Glad you found this too! Hope you get lots of enjoyment from fundoshi-wearing and fundoshi appreciation. Thank you for reading the blog!