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This page is being constantly refined as I learn more about fundoshi.
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The three main styles of fundoshi are rokushaku, etchū, and mokko. The picture above gives you a pretty decent idea of the differences (that's mokko in the middle) though it oversimplifies a bit. Below is a collection of diagrams to help you navigate the ins-and-outs of fundoshi wearing, since, if you're like me, you don't know someone who can lend a helpful hand and show you how -- you have to learn it yourself. Dooooooown at the very bottom of this page, you'll find a few links to fabric stores online where you can get the perfect cloth to make your own fundoshi. Fundoshi can also be purchased already made for you, and if you speak Japanese the variety and amount of ready-to-wear fundoshis increases exponentially.
If there's someone you'd like to share the concept of the fundoshi with, without the sometimes naughty content that appears on this site, please direct them to fundoshiphile.blogspot.com, which is a clean and straightforward introduction to wearing and enjoying the fundoshi.
About 90% of the fundoshi pictured on this site are rokushaku, so we'll start there:
To the left is a very straightforward drawing of a rokushaku fundoshi's basic geometry. The two ends, which get twisted around either side of the "belt" in steps 3 and 5, provide no-slip friction that keeps your fundoshi on and as tight as you like, no matter what. I usually tuck the very ends into the twist of the belt to neaten my fundoshi's appearance.
All that aside, the rokushaku fundoshi is the one that caught my young American eye and ensnared my imagination. First it was a curiosity, then an interest, then an obsession, then a fetish, and finally a fever -- yes, I have fundoshi fever!! This first diagram is the one that taught me to tie my first fundoshi:
And here it is again, as a drawing with some instructions in English. This was found in Christopher Ross's book Mishima's Sword, accompanying the portion where he visits a gay fundoshi bar in Japan looking for information about the late Yukio Mishima, reknowned author and failed revolutionary.
Here's another English language diagram that I found helpful:
Here are a couple more fairly straightforward diagrams, each of these reads left-to-right like a Western reader would expect:
The following beautiful drawing is by an artist named Yinji. Importantly, these read right-to-left, like an Asian speaker would expect, starting with the young man on the left (who holds the fundoshi in his teeth like the last diagram above, rather than casting it over one shoulder as all the other diagrams so far have shown -- a matter of taste really).
In the second half of Yinji's drawings above, the final steps of tying the fundoshi are shown top-to-bottom along the right side of the picture. On the lefthand side, where the young man is looking back over his shoulder, a "wrong" way of tying is shown -- where he has "missed" looping the second strand of the fundoshi that came up between his ass cheeks around the first strand. This creates that "Y" shape and a generally unstable fundoshi. Tied correctly, as on the lower right, the friction of the different parts of the fundoshi meeting at that three-way intersection will keep the garment snug and secure no matter what -- wet or dry -- until you are ready to untie it.
And ladies, do not feel left out of all the fundoshi fun! Though it is less common, women do wear fundoshi too! So if this captures your imagination, I encourage you to try it out. Here's a diagram which shows the fundoshi being tied on and worn by a woman so that you can easily imagine the fundoshi accenting your own curves and angles. This one starts in the upper right, then just follow the arrows through the steps. Fundoshi can be a shared experience, an exotic surprise for a partner, or a sizzling and unexpected accent for a professional dancer. Speaking as a male, the idea of a woman in fundoshi is entirely captivating to me, much like seeing a woman in a man's dress shirt (and not much else), boxers, one of my old college t-shirts, etc.
Finally, here is a bit more of a fanciful diagram. This one reads right-to-left, but also top-to-bottom at the same time -- that is, the first step is in the top right square, the second below it. The third step is in the top middle square, the fourth below it, and so on. The final (lower left) square just shows the character getting creatively trussed up with fabric -- the artists suggestion of one alternative way to enjoy fundoshi cloth! Rokushaku fundoshi can be as much fun off as they are on -- with endless possibilities as bindings, blindfolds, gags, leashes, etc.
Ettchu fundoshi are very simple in concept, extremely easy to learn to wear, and the ultimate in light-as-a-feather, barely there comfort. Boxers seem positively bulky by comparison, and ettchu fundoshi never creep up. A simpler alternative to rokushaku fundoshi for daily wear, and popular with comfort seekers as well as persons with allergies to the elastic found in the waistbands of so much conventional Western underwear; ettchu fundoshi are also ideal for expressing personality, as the hanging front panel can be decorated with pictures, writing, or prints.
Ettchu fundoshi are a shorter length of cloth than rokushaku fundoshi (since they don't need to pass around your body), with two tapes or lengths of string attached to the back. This string is pulled around your waist, tied in front, and the "apron" portion is drawn between your legs from behind and tucked under the ties. Conventionally, it is pulled under the string and the apron is allowed to hang in front, though as you'll see in the very last diagram, it can also be tucked over the ties with the extra "apron" portion hidden away inside the fundoshi, approximating the look of a rokushaku fundoshi.
Ettchu fundoshi also afford fuller butt coverage than rokushaku fundoshi's "T-back" or thong style; the trade-off is that ettchu fundoshi are much slacker, and therefore best suited to casual wear or lounging. Leave the heavy lifting to rokushaku fundoshi.
The diagram below neatly answers the age-old question, "how do I go to the bathroom?" The answer isn't nearly so simple for rokushaku fundoshi (I just usually take mine off and tie it fresh when I'm finished -- although nothing could be easier than going "#1" -- for that just slide the pouch over and settle your gear back into place when you're done).
Mokko fundoshi, finally, are a sort of hybrid between the ease of ettchu-style and the appearance of rokushaku-style. They are probably the closest in appearance to Western-style bikini briefs, though once again they are elastic free and their simple architecture makes it possible to make them from silk, satin, velour, fleece, you name it! The word "mokko" refers to their basket-like shape, though I found it interesting to note that the word mokkori is used to represent the "sound of something rising very quickly" -- in other words the equivalent of the English slang term schwing! or the noise made by a cartoon spring. Ha!
This first diagram shows ettchu fundoshi (again) in its top half, mokko fundoshi in its lower half:
Mokko fundoshi really require the least explanation as far as how to wear them, they are essentially like string bikini bottoms, but uber-comfy -- again completely slaying boxer shorts in the comfort department. They virtually disappear under even fitted clothes, and make a great cover-up for sunbathers. A mokko fundoshi can even be worn over rokushaku fundoshi as a cover-up, if such a thing was needed at a public beach or pool.
Despite these positives, mokko-style seems to be regarded as the least dignified form of fundoshi. I'd personally disagree, as I find them super-comfy and appealing to the eye. Mokko fundoshi are ideal as an after-shower wrap or for weekend lounging, and probably the best alternative for mixed-company gatherings of the clothing-optional sort, unless you're bold enough to wear rokushaku -- and willing to demonstrate to everyone else how it's done!
One of the most frequent questions asked is "what kind of fabric should I get to make my own fundoshi?" By far, the best alternative I've found thus far was recommended by Fundoshi 4 All! reader John, who found "Island Breeze Gauze Cotton." It is excellent for making your own fundoshis. Another reader, Domin, suggested cheesecloth if you can find lengths of it; saying it is breathable, comfy, and looks great.
Traditionally, fundoshi are made out of a cotton fabric called sarashi. If you can find it for sale, get it. The pattern of navy blue dots on white that is often used for fundoshi is called "mameshibori," after the shibori method of dyeing the cloth. Sarashi is virtually identical to cheesecloth in weight and weave.
If not, the Island Breeze Cotton makes an amazing fundoshi, and comes in a nice variety of colors. I order 3-yard pieces, then tear them lengthwise into 10-14 inch wide strips -- voila! Fundoshi. No hemming, sewing, or even scissors required. The slightly frayed edge gets softer with washing and tumble-drying. The only issue with laundering fundoshi is that they get wound around each other -- they will literally braid themselves together in the dryer. An easy way around this is to place them in one of those mesh bags you would launder "delicates" in. If you're ambitious, you can iron your fundoshi, but I usually just roll them up. That said, nothing beats a fundoshi fresh out of the dryer or fresh from under the iron -- especially in the winter months.
Whatever fabric you select, it will get softer and more comfortable with use and with washing/drying. Although it may be more traditional to line-dry a fundoshi, I recommend tumbling them dry to accelerate this softening process.
We'd love to see you sporting your newly-perfected fundoshi, in all your glory! If you have pictures of yourself or friends decked out in fundoshi, you can send them to ihsodnufraew at yahoo dot com. You can also direct questions and comments there.