Without any doubt, if you are new to wearing fundoshi, the idea of putting one on can seem a little daunting. If you grew up wearing fundoshi, it can be wrapped and cinched in well under a minute -- but for the novice, there are false starts, do-overs, and pauses to consider "do I twist it this way? Does it tuck in here? Is this tight enough?" The second-guessing can be maddening, but fortunately it is rarely discouraging: even putting on a fundoshi wrong is fun!
Over time, helpful souls have recorded videos or drawn step-by-step diagrams. Since there are dozens of regional variations in tying fundoshi, it takes a little experimentation to find which method works best for you. I'm including several different diagrams and drawings from fundoshi packages and elsewhere to give you a leg up on tying the perfect fundoshi.
Etchu fundoshi is no doubt the easiest to figure out and master. It is the boxer shorts to rokushaku fundoshi's briefs -- breezy, light, comfortable in a featherweight, not-even-really-there way. Simply let the apron portion fall behind you, draw the tapes around and tie them in a bow. Then pull the apron forward between your legs and tuck it under the belt you've formed.
(After the jump, there's about a dozen different diagrams, most of which can be clicked on for a larger version)
Pretty straightforward, right? Well don't worry, if you prefer a challenge, perfecting the rokushaku fundoshi is for you! This is the older, more traditional style; and as such it is infused with centuries of refinement of it's elegantly simple design. Three meters of cloth, roughly handled in thirds: one meter is tossed over your shoulder (or held in your mouth), the other two meters are drawn back between your legs, wrapped around your waist, looped under itself, and wound around. Then the front third follows the first two between your legs, around the "T"-shape you formed with the first two, then wound around in the opposite direction.
"What?" you say. Well, here -- a picture is worth 1,000 words:
(keep in mind that, for most of these pictures, you are reading them from right-to-left)
As you have no doubt noticed, most of these instructions are in Japanese. Rather than being discouraging, this makes me take heart -- even the Japanese need instructions for their own traditional undercloth!