Loincloth (fundoshi)


Loincloth (fundoshi)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


loincloth, fundoshi 褌 ふんどし
"the door curtain of a man" otoko no noren 男の暖簾

Nowadays you can see it worn by Sumo wrestlers and men during a festival or during ascetic practices under a waterfall, mostly in winter.


A similar item for ladies is the "hip wrapper", koshimaki 腰巻.

. koshimaki kitoo 腰巻祈祷 prayer for a kimono undergarment .


The best material for this is a white linen or white cotton. Silk crepe may be used according to one's taste, but plain silk is not suitable. In winter it may be lined with similar material, but in other seaons it is always single. Both ends (or front and back) are hemmed to put cords through. One of the cords forms a loop to suspend the front end from the neck, and the other secures the back end by being tied in the front. The length of the fundoshi is about 5 feet (5 shaku).

How to tie a fundoshi


The fundoshi is a traditional Japanese male loincloth.
It is made from a strip of cotton cloth 14 inches wide and about 92 to 96 inches long. The cloth is twisted to create a thong effect at the back. Fundoshi are often worn with hanten (a short cotton jacket with straight sleeves) during summer festivals by men who carry mikoshi (portable shrines) in parades.
Fundoshi are often used as swimsuits. In some high schools, boys do the long-distance sea swim with the fundoshi. The present Crown Prince of Japan also swam with fundoshi in his childhood. In the pools and beaches of Japan, fundoshi swimmers can still be seen.
Quote from the WIKIPEDIA

Daruma. Various Loincloth Photos and Explanation
Gabi Greve

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Santoka and the Fundoshi

He washed it in the river, dried it and folded it neatly. Next time he took it out and used it as a handtowel. Thus was his Ninja use of the loincloth.



fundoshi to ko akai hana to yo tsuyu kana
by Issa, 1812 Age 50.

on loincloth
and little red flowers...
evening dew

(Tr. David Lanoue)

... ... ... Haiga and Renku by Sakuo Nakamura     

matsuri no yoru no koi monogatari

love romance
at the night of festival


The following haiku were compiled by Larry Bole
Translating Haiku Forum

fundoshi senu shiri fukare yuku ya haru no kaze

Without underwear
a bottom blown bare of robes --
the spring windiness.

Tr. Sawa / Shiffert

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

... ... ... Some haiku by Kobayashi Issa

haru kaze ni shiri o fukaruru yaneya kana

The spring wind!
The skirts of the thatcher
Are blown about.

Tr. Blyth

his butt cooled
by the spring breeze
roof thatcher

Tr. Lanoue

hirugao ni fundoshi sarasu kozô kana

in day flowers
airing out his loincloth...
little priest

Tr. and comment by Lanoue

Literally, a "little priest" (kozô, kozoo) is involved. However, in Japanese this expression can mean any little boy.

fundoshi ni wakizashi sashite fuyu no tsuki

a short sword
stuck in his loincloth...
winter moon

Tr. Lanoue

This haiku has the prescript, "A passerby."

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

... ...

gorori to kusa ni fundoshi kawaita

Like a log in the grass -
As my fundoshi dried.


tr. Hisashi Miura and James Green (found at Terebess Asia Online)

a carful of teens
mooning other cars--
above them the moon

- compiled by Larry Bole


kangori ya akafundoshi no otokoburi

ascetics in the cold !
the figure of a strong man
in his red loincloth

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

伊藤雄 Ito Takeshi


mutsuki むつき【襁褓】diaper, napkin, nappy
it also has the meaning of "loincloth".
Windel. Babykleidung

onboo no mutsuki hoshitari hasu no hana

a cemetery guard
dries the diapers ...
lotus flowers


a cemetery guard
dries his loincloth ...
lotus flowers

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

(In the Edo period, diapers were made of small stripes of cotton cloth, like tenugui towels, and had to be washed and dried all the time.)

Related words






. Gabi Greve said...

on loincloth
and little red flowers...
evening dew

fundoshi to ko akai hana to yo tsuyu kana


by Issa, 1812

Tr. David Lanoue


sakuo said...

yoku kaketeimasu.


Gillena Cox said...

sumo wrestlers
in their barest
tossing opponents

Gabi Greve said...

Yosa Buson

褌に 団扇さしたる 亭主かな
fundoshi ni uchiwa sashitaru teishu kana

In his loincloth
Bearing a round fan,
Household head

Tr. Shoji Kumano

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

hirugao ya fundoshi sarasu bōji-gui

wild morning glories --
a loincloth sunning
on a signpost

This mellow hokku is from the end of the fourth month (May) of 1814, when Issa was living in his hometown. On the fourteenth of this month Issa married his first wife, Kiku, so the hokku must have been written a week or two after their wedding. The post in the hokku is probably made of wood or possibly of stone, and it has vertical writing on it that explains that it marks the border of a certain area, or it may state a place name or give the distance to the next village or to a special landmark or temple. From the top of the post droops a man's ordinary loincloth, probably white, which is getting some sun or perhaps drying out. It seems likely that someone who carries loads or perhaps carries passengers in a palanquin with another carrier as a team has left a sweaty loincloth on the signpost for a few hours. Issa does not say. But he is clearly fascinated by this evidence of human work hanging on a signpost with its abstract message. The newly married Issa may also be fascinated by the sexual implications of the loincloth. And at or around the bottom of the post grow wild morning glories, a close relative of morning glories that grows on a long vine and sometimes climbs bushes, trees, and poles. Its flowers are mostly a delicate light pink or white and pink, so here they probably partly match or at least harmonize with the color of the loincloth as they climb and surround the bottom of the post. The trumpet shapes of the flowers have a feminine look to them in contrast to the male post and the loincloth, and Issa may expect readers to imagine this contrast.

At the same time, the cutting word ya at the end of the first line allows at least two different interpretations. The first is that the reader sees the pink and white flowers at the bottom of the post and then looks upward, only to be surprised by a loincloth hanging from its top. This reading would see the loincloth as an ironic vulgar intrusion into a bucolic scene. In the second reading, however, the ya acts to sever and thus directly juxtapose the flowers and the loincloth, allowing them to interact on a plane of equality. Since both contain a certain amount of white, both also share a sense of purity, and the juxtaposition makes the loincloth seem almost as natural as the flowers. In fact, the cutting word allows this particular loincloth to actually be, ah, a wild morning glory. This imaginative fusion also leads to a realization that the body and sex are just as clean and natural and spiritual as the white and pink purity suggested by the flowers. Since humans overflowing with some sort of spiritual or artistic power are often called flowers or blossoms in Japanese, it would be natural to regard the loincloth in this context as something that helps its wearer flower into a highly natural version of himself. For Issa marriage may now seem like a form of flowering, but even readers who don't know anything about Issa's life can still feel a definite overlapping of the power of the flowers with the loincloth.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

oni no koshimaki 鬼の腰巻 - oni no fundoshi 鬼の褌
oni no pantsu 鬼のパンツ pants of an oni - loincloth