The Fundoshi and Japanese Male Fashion

Japanese Male Fashion Trends

Men’s fashion hasn't changed much in the past few decades. Most men tend to go simplistic on their style – a shirt with jeans, jeans and button downs. However, over the past few years, men have started to be quite particular with what they wear. With the trends of #OOTDs and the like, men seem to be more careful with the things they wear.

In Asia, men’s fashion has taken a significant leap and has introduced trends never seen before. There are clothes that are much more trendy and edgy than the simple shirt and jeans staple men used to wear. Men have also become more playful with colors with the addition of pastels, and soft colors to their wardrobe. A lot of men have also started to wear a lot of layers. There are button downs on top of shirts, soft cotton cardigans, and even trendy scarves.

The trends of men’s clothing not only in Japan but all over the world has just experienced an overhaul. There are brands that call for different styles may it be casual, street, outdoor, or formal. There are now new styles that go beyond clothing and into accessories like jewelry, glasses, hats, and shoes. Hair has also become more revolutionary which provides more options and alternatives for men.

Fashion, through the decades, may not have changed much but it surely has tried to make men’s clothing trendier and fun. However, today’s clothing is significantly different to how they were centuries ago. Changes that may have been forgotten but are definitely significant to the tiniest of details – from color to patterns, to fabric and more. Men have changed their clothing from top to bottom and from inside out. Even their undergarments have become much more revolutionized.

Japanese Male Clothing through the Centuries: Traditional Clothing of Men Still Worn Today

Japan has a number of different traditional clothing through years. Although they have been replaced as everyday clothes, these kinds of fashion are still worn by men during special occasions like festivals, weddings, New Year’s Holidays and more.

The Hakama is the traditional clothing worn by Japanese men in the past. It was in the 6th century when this kind of clothing reached the shores of Japan from Imperial China. It is a kind of garment which is worn underneath a kimono and is divided in the middle like very loose trousers. There are straps which are used to secure this kind of clothing since garters and belts are not yet famous at the time. A long string known as himo is used as a belt system to hold the hakama together.

There are two himo strings on the sides of the trousers on the front and the rear. These are then tied together and tucked underneath an obi, or a large fabric used to hold together the top and bottom parts of a kimono. Hakamas can be worn by a woman as well, but it is more common in men. Men’s trousers or hakama are usually made of silk, colored black or white, and are short.

The Japanese and their traditional Underwear

Underwear had been an important part of clothing through the centuries. Although there is a stigma to publicly discussing the topic, it is without a doubt that undergarments have been in the development since the time humans realized certain parts of the body needed extra protection. For the Japanese, before briefs and boxers were introduced post-war, men were wearing what was known as the fundoshi.

Fundoshi Meaning

Fundoshi has always been a part of Japanese clothing even during the earlier times. There is no historical data to show when and where this kind of clothing originated but it has been an important piece of the garment before the Second World War. It was only after the Second World War that modernized briefs have been introduced to many parts of Asia.

Nowadays, the Fundoshi has lost its functionality as an everyday piece of clothing. It is not any more seen as underwear but is seen as traditional clothing worn during certain festivals in the country. A close relative of this kind of clothing is the Mawashi, or the type of underwear Sumo Wrestlers wear during a fight or during training. There is also some modernized swimwear design for men that have been designed from the look of a fundoshi.

The interesting thing is that even if it is a traditional form of clothing, there is a large percentage of today’s Japanese youth that never wore fundoshi in their lives. Since it is merely a piece of cloth draped, wrapped and tied about the waist, a lot of people who wear it claim that it is unusually super comfortable.

Fundoshi Fabric and Fundoshi Pattern

There are no specific kinds of fabric which are used to create fundoshi. It could be made out of cotton or polyester. However, it is preferable if a lighter, softer material to make sure that it will not scratch or cause rashes to very sensitive skin.

For those who want to try out fundoshi, it is a good thing to remember about the fundoshi is the fact that it is a 3-meter strip of fabric. This material will then be folded, wrapped, twisted and tied to form a pouch-like structure for the male private parts. Since the way that the fundoshi is tied will create a snug and comfortably tight pouch, there is enough protection and support similar to that of an ordinary underwear.

Choosing a fabric will depend on the sensitivity of one’s skin and how much softness and breathability the individual chooses. It is pretty much an experiment all together to find the fabric which will be perfect for any kind of weather.

A typical fundoshi is usually made from light cotton because it is not only soft and gentle on the skin, this kind of material is also very cool and breathable. It is also very easy to wash and dry for multiple uses. The downside to this is that materials made from cotton are easy to disintegrate so there should be extreme care when washing.

Different kinds of Fundoshi

Although the purpose of a fundoshi does not vary quite a lot, the method for which it is tied and worn varies depending on the style which is being aimed for.

Mokko Fundoshi

This style is the more modern kind of fundoshi. It is folded similarly to a bikini and looks more closely like a man’s simple underwear. What is special about this fundoshi is that it is usually made from fabrics of different colors and patterns mostly because it is the type of underwear that kabuki actors used to wear. It should normally match the fabric of their costume and more. It is very easy to fold and twist – the easiest out of all fundoshi styles. Unlike other kinds of fundoshi, this does not create a twisted back so the buttocks are not exposed. It is for more conservative individuals who want to stay simplistic.

Etchu Fundoshi

The Etchu fundoshi is a much simpler kind of the Rokushaku style. It is not exposed compared to the other styles because it has an apron-like cloth which covers up the front area. It does not involve that much folding and draping like other more traditional kinds. It is generally flowy and is the most breathable out of all the fundoshi folding styles. It is what is most preferred by men going to non-naked bath houses.


The Rokushaku Fundoshi is one of the oldest and most common forms of fundoshi. This kind of fundoshi which is commonly seen in media. It is the type of fundoshi style which is used for festivals where the cloth is twisted to create something similar to a thong which exposes the cheeks of the buttocks. This kind of fundoshi is more traditional and is often confused as the only kind of fundoshi style. What is special about this is that it is also commonly used as a swimwear.

Fundoshi for Women

There is now fundoshi intended for men. Although traditionally it is designed for men, more modernized fashion has introduced the fundoshi to women as a fashionable form of swimwear and more. A woman can wear a fundoshi bottoms out to go swimming and more. It is also not that used as an everyday piece of clothing because it is much baggier than ordinary underwear.

How to Wear a Fundoshi

The fundoshi can be worn in different ways depending on the style or kind the individual wearing it is after. Basically, a fundoshi is a loin cloth used as an alternative to typical undergarments.

The first step in wearing a fundoshi is to drape it one end across the shoulder and the other end between the crotch or front area. The tip is to extend this end of the fabric until it is wrapped around the waist. Once the fabric is tied at the waist, the end of the fundoshi which is placed on the shoulder should be placed in between the legs as well. This should then be twisted and coiled to the belt like wrapping on the hips.

By Hayakawa Kyuukei [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The mokko fundoshi is much easier to wear. Basically, the best way to wear this is to roll both ends of the fabric inwards for a few inches to make it look as if it has strings attached to it. Place the midsection of the fabric in the crotch area then tie together the ends of the rolled up fabric together. This is much easier to wear and also more comfortable.

Fundoshi Benefits

What is special about the fundoshi is that it has a number of undeniable benefits which proves that wearing it on a daily basis can be very healthy. For instance, since the material is not made up any piece of elastic, it is much better for circulation. There will be nothing that will press a vein or create markings on the crotch area.

Furthermore, wearing a fundoshi is a good thing because it has reduced the occurrence of sweating. This is due to the very breathable material the fundoshi is made of. According to some studies, this can improve the condition and health of a man’s reproductive abilities.

It is less stressful to wear and its looseness provides a form of liberation no other undergarment can provide. It is very comfortable for the body and the skin. It will provide support without straining too many veins in the crotch area unlike how gartered underwear can do. Because of these benefits, this clothing item is a definite must have.

Where to Buy Fundoshi

Fundoshi eBay

For those living abroad, it might be a good idea to find fundoshi fabrics on eBay. There are a few individuals and shops online that sell modernized undergarments which are inspired from a traditional fundoshi. Also, there are shops that sell traditional fundoshi of different fabrics, color, and style.

Fundoshi Shop: Fundoshi For Sale

Since the fundoshi is starting to increase its popularity among women, fundoshi shops around the country are starting to increase as well. There are even some traditional underwear stores that sell fundoshi to their clientele. These are made from cute fabrics, interesting designs, and unique styles. They give a modern take to the traditional fundoshi underwear. Some people even refer to this as kawaii or cute underwear.

Fundoshi Shop Tokyo

Just recently there had been what is called a fundoshi fair or fundoshi day held in Tokyo. The point of this is to re-introduce traditional clothing to the youth of today. This fundoshi day is held every February 14 of every year. There are literally hundreds of shops that compete to sell the most interesting fundoshi designs and a number of people flock the fair to find interesting pieces to take home.

What is special about the fundoshi is that it can be worn at any time of the year. Even if it is usually sold during the month of February, it can still be a good alternative during the cold months of October to December.