Loincloth makes comeback

The traditional Japanese loincloth, or fundoshi is making a comeback, writes the Japan Times today.

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Fundoshi disappeared from Japan’s buttocks shortly after the end of WWII. They were only worn by participants of religious festivals and a shrinking population of elderly men. That is now changing, says the Japan Times.

Mitsukoshi Ltd.‘s Ginza store carries fundoshi sporting “tartan, paisley and geometric patterns in red, blue and other colors” that are attractive to young shoppers.

Fundoshi traditionally were made of boring, often white cloth. The new wide variety of prints and colors has brought the fundoshi back to life.

Last month Mitsukoshi’s Ginza branch sold as many as 800 fundoshi. In April it was still 441. The department store used to sell only about 80 a month. “Women seem to be buying them for their boyfriends and friends,” Yoshimi Shuma, manager of the men’s clothing section is quoted as saying in the Japan Times article. Businessmen appear to be buying fundoshi as “power underwear”. They wear them to achieve good results at work.

In its simplest form the fundoshi consists of a long rectangular cloth with straps at one end. The wearer ties the straps from back to front so that the cloth is hanging over the buttocks. Then the other end is pulled up between the legs and threaded under the strap, with the rest of the cloth hanging down like an apron. Prices range from 500 yen to around 3,000 yen.

The fundoshi revival can be seen at other stores as well. Ryogoku Takahashi Co., a store in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward selling sumo goods, sees an increasing number of young people buying fundoshi.

The revival started after Ryogoku Takahashi began selling fundoshi with traditional designs, like lions or dragons.

According to Masatoki Minami, author of the book “Fundoshi Monogatari” (“Tales of Fundoshi”), the decline of fundoshi started when foreign dignitaries who came to Japan in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) complained about them.

Many Japanese carpenters and laborers wore only fundoshi, but the foreigners considered it “inappropriate” to show one’s buttocks in public.

It has taken a while, but it looks like the Japanese finally feel confident enough about their own culture to don their traditional loincloth, although nowadays only as underwear…

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Hello, i like the japanese fashion style very much! Tanks for give me a view inside your culture.

Sep 21, 2006 (5723 days ago)

Export Fundoshi to America! You won’t go wrong.

Apr 24, 2009 (4776 days ago)

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