23 July 2010
the aquatic fundoshi
There is no doubt that fundoshi are very well suited for swimming, diving, and sunning. I couldn't think of a better way to catch a bronze than clad in a fresh white rokushaku fundoshi -- the tan lines are minimized, and the adequate coverage of the front pouch stretched tightly over your crotch just flirts with the edge of American decency laws. Check first, but chances are your community permits fundoshi! Most public decency laws mandate that the cleft of your buttocks be covered by at least a 1-inch strip of fabric, and that is easily achieved with rokushaku-style. It's a non-issue with etchu or mokko styles and their broad coverage of your seat. It is safe to assume that anywhere a thong would be tolerated, so would a fundoshi.
But don't go being foolish and then telling the authorities that Fundoshi 4 All! said it was OK! Always check your local regulations and ordinances -- and when in doubt, ask. It's so much less embarrassing to ask first than to have some junior cop cuff you and parade you around...
Etchu fundoshi, in fact, is probably the perfect hot weather wear of all time. Etchu fundoshi are lightweight to the point of being almost gossamer, especially a silk pair! That in fact is their only drawback, too, if you are wearing them swimming: that so-light-it's-not-even-there feeling and normal exertion can result in some unintentional exposures!
That's simply not the case with rokushaku fundoshi. A well tied rokushaku fundoshi will stay tied and keep it's shape no matter what. In fact, this is the traditional garb of pearl divers, fishermen, and the female ama divers of Japan. A wet fundoshi only becomes more secure, as the fabric swells slightly and tightens against itself.
There are a number of Shinto festivals in Japan that involve fundoshi (and fundoshi only), and water or mud. The water is often a purifying element in these ritual occasions.