22 August 2012
It's easy to forget, in the context of this blog at least, that the fundoshi is often a ceremonial garment -- as proper as a necktie, as utilitarian as socks. In these Shinto ceremonies, not any old twist of fabric, ragged loincloth, or BVDs will do: fundoshi is specifically required.
Some of this has to do with the sheer amount of physicality and exertion that takes place as saké-soaked participants run through the snow, clamber up ropes, hoist heavy mikoshi shrines onto their shoulders, or frolic in the water and mud while hoisting friends and strangers alike into the air.
No doubt, the support and security of a fundoshi has helped stave off many injuries, and protected countless genitalia from the sometimes violent "naked" festivals. We should remember that, and revere the fundoshi, just as we revere the bodies wrapped up inside it.