The nature of fundoshi -- namely, containing and covering the loins -- is historically and traditionally chaste. But in truth, the very covering of the sexual organs draws attention to them. There is innocence in nudity, but naked flesh also possesses the capacity for raunch, lust, and innuendo. It's the rare bird who freely declares "Hey! Hey everyone! I'm wearing fundoshi! And it looks and feels great! Wanna see?"
On the contrary, much as with underwear (and especially underwear deemed "sexy"), fundoshi are kept largely hidden away and private, at least in daily usage. Only during events such as the Hadaka Matsuri or the thunderous drum solos of taiko are fundoshi worn publicly, proudly, or by everyone.
On most weekdays, fundoshi are more likely found in the category of "unmentionables." It is interesting that we relegate our garments of greatest utility to a silent, unseen, and often unappreciated role. Shame of our bodies, guilt at feeling pleasure, distrust of others' motives -- all these things play a part in our guarded relationship with our bodies and the bodies of others. To be quite sure, a history of violence, rape, and gender inequality strongly enforces this. It is unlikely that humanity will ever return to the garden of innocence.
So below you'll find a celebration of the furtive, the coy, the shy and the retiring fundoshi: glimpsed in the woods, tucked into jeans, photographed with faces cropped. Any one of these photos could be any one of us. Could be our neighbor, son, cousin twice-removed, our favorite actor or a complete stranger.
Maybe in a future post we will focus on the bold and empowered fundoshi wearer. On any given day, maybe the fundoshi-wearers below are fierce and confident, striking a pose with hips thrust. But at least when these photos were taken, they were feeling a bit more reserved, or at very least they were conveying appreciation towards our voyeurism.