My introduction to the Fundoshi came when I was a kid and saw a page in the International Male catalog. They sold a “Fundoshi brief”, designed to mimic the traditional style in a western brief and they also sold a “real” Fundoshi. I even ordered one. When I got it I realized they had taken something inherently simple and had complicated it so it was a mess. The “sewn loop” eliminated the tying and created a huge bunch of cloth in the back. It was horrible.
Fast forward to the joys of the Internet years later. I saw a photo online of a Japanese man in a Fundoshi and began searching for more information. That search led me to this site where I learned a lot more and found resources for buying and later making my own Fundoshi. The first ones I ordered from Xzytes.com. They are of excellent quality, made of breathable material with very nicely-finished edges. They’re a bargain at $11.90. After a few attempts at tying one, I was hooked.
I see the Fundoshi as the most masculine of all garments. It accentuates the male anatomical curves beautifully but in a subtle, Japanese style which draws attention without being too obvious. Some modern underwear is just over the top obvious in what it is trying to do and to me, ends up trivializing a man’s masculinity. The Fundoshi makes a powerful, masculine statement, tapping into the ancient past while doing something really practical in a simple way.
I live in Arizona where in July and August, we regularly have temperatures in the 105-110F range and humidity from nightly thunderstorms. The only “underwear” I have found halfway comfortable in this environment is a narrow-band jock. Sweating and chafing are unavoidable and by the end of the day I was always miserable. Enter the Fundoshi. While I was not sure I could adapt to cloth being “up there” in the back, I realized in one day how great this can be. The Fundoshi hugs all of the areas where perspiration is a problem, wicking it away. Gone are the talc sprays and lotions. I don’t need them. My Fundoshi provides support and cool, dry comfort. After a couple of days I was so used to the fit of a Fundoshi that I forgot I had it on. It doesn’t bunch or slip or creep. It’s just there doing its job, quite elegantly and in a way which makes me feel my own sensual masculinity.
I have read one comment online about how a Fundoshi should not be worn by others than the Japanese. The writer went on to talk about co-opting of culture, etc. If this were worn to ridicule the Japanese, I might say there was a point but that certainly is not how I view a Fundoshi. I see this as a gift of an ancient civilization which was thinking out of the box before our culture even existed. I also don’t see my wearing of this garment as co-opting of culture any more than I see Japanese cars as a co-opting of western culture. In fact, having once owned a Chevy which would not start below 65 degrees, I’m grateful for my Toyota, but I digress.
Economics of the Fundoshi are hard to ignore. A popular underwear website recently sent me an email advertising a sale on some brand name boxerbriefs at $32 plus shipping. I recently ordered three different fabrics, each of which will make six Fundoshi. The total cost was $35 or less than $2 each!
Fundoshi is more than a garment. It’s a lifestyle and a mind set. It’s about daily personal organization and to use a phrase which shows up in various ancient texts from Homer’s Iliad to the Bible, I “gird my loins” each morning. There is something intangible about tying on a Funoshi to meet a new day. It’s a sense that I’m ready to get started and that I’m prepared. Since my “conversion” I have not worn any other type of “underwear” and I wear my Fundoshi (commercially made and home-made) for loungewear, for working in the back yard and as swimwear. I can customize the fit by the way I tie it to achieve a variety in fit and appearance. A Fundoshi is a most amazing, simple piece of cloth, the product of ingenuity and a lot more relevant and useful than the piece of decorative cloth we westerners tie around our necks for looks alone.
(Note: we added a few pictures along the way, just for fun. Thank you, John, for being a faithful reader but more importantly for spreading the gospel of fundoshi! Here's a few more, for good measure...)