08 May 2010

fundoshi: getting started

It's been great to receive a couple e-mails from readers who've stumbled onto the Fundoshi 4 All! blog and had their interest in fundoshi kindled. Getting started wearing fundoshi can often seem like a big step. First off, there's the potential for embarrassment -- getting caught with your pants down so to speak. Secondly, fundoshi aren't as easy to put on as boxers or biefs, and I think there's some apprehension about "doing it right." Thirdly, outside of drumming groups like Kodo, fundoshi are often seen on the web in a very sexualized context; so the fundoshi-curious are left contemplating whether they are joining some sort of seedy subculture simply by wrapping a length of cloth around themself.

I'd like to tackle that third one first. While Wikipedia would have you believe that fundoshi are almost never worn anymore, except on ceremonial occasions, that's simply not true. In Japan, it is fairly common to see fundoshi; and while it used to be that only older members of the society still wore fundoshi, things have changed a lot in recent years. Nearly every department store carries fundoshi. A quick search of YouTube will show dozens of people frolicking in fundoshi. Not all is innocent of course, and there is certainly a lot of bondage (kinbaku) and softcore activity to be found as well -- if that's what you're looking for.

Here are a number of commercial fundoshi packages:

Here's one of my favorite videos clips, from some sort of game show or variety show where a man demonstrates how to wear both etchu and rokushaku styles. The laugh track, cheesy lighting, and Wham! soundtrack aside, this is a great video for demonstrating the basics of fundoshi-wearing. And just as importantly, it's from national television, is done professionally, and while there are some giggles is generally an above-ground, public display of fundoshi -- no seediness, no shame.

On the second point, if you are nervous about tying your fundoshi just right -- don't worry! I don't think I've seen two people do it exactly the same way yet! Like underoos, fundoshi leave a lot to individual taste. Some people like a wider strip of cloth, some people like it narrower. Some people tie theirs tighter, some people leave it looser. Some people twist the cloth as they are putting it on, some people keep it flat. And some people like colors, some stick to white.

It takes some practice, and it might mean taking 5 minutes or making a couple separate tries -- but it is rewarding! A well-tied fundoshi looks and feels great, is supportive, and makes you feel like you are positively surging with male force. In fact, there is a saying "fundoshi wo shimete kakaru," which literally means "get ready by tightening your fundoshi" that is equivalent to "roll up your sleeves and get to work" or "prepare for battle." Fundoshi are often worn by businessmen as "power underwear" when they attend important meetings or are up for promotions. Unlike day-to-day underwear, fundoshi confer extra confidence on the wearer. Hey, it's a 1,000+ year-old garment -- it's bound to have picked up some significance along the way.

Toyota's Product Development division refers to detailed scheduling as "fundoshi scheduling." The Toyota Product Development System manual says "fundoshi is an ancient, traditional, male undergarment that is long and narrow and wraps around the body. When applied to scheduling, the term conveys something quite similar because fundoshi scheduling specifically refers to the length and comprehensiveness of detailed schedules." How about that?

Finally, the potential embarrassment factor. Well, that's a true danger. It has gradually become less mortifying to be caught in your boxers, but anything even remotely resembling a "banana hammock" takes some bravery to wear in public. I'm not there yet. If I had some advice, don't wear fundoshi when you have a doctor's appointment, need to change clothes in front of others, or are around people who delight in "pantsing."

Find times and places where you feel 100% comfortable in fundoshi. Introduce fundoshi to open-minded friends, go to private beaches for sunning, go camping or hiking on private land, or enjoy a hot tub with some friends. In a pinch, if you think you might get caught wearing fundoshi by someone not mature enough to respect it, you can always take your fundoshi off and freeball. A fundoshi will fold up small enough to fit in the back pocket of an ordinary pair of pants, about the size of a fat wallet.

Like skimpy underwear, wearing fundoshi should be fun. If it causes any anxiety, work up to it. Wear it in private. There's no pressure to do anything or put yourself into potentially awkward situations. I've grown really comfortable with fundoshi. I'm lucky to have a girlfriend who loves seeing me work out or do housework in my fundoshi. But when I first started wearing fundoshi, it almost seemed too powerfully erotic.

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