Fundoshi, or type of traditional Japanese underwear, are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. We asked a specialist why they’re so great!

Unless you’re an avid follower of the crazy antics of the Japanese RocketNews24 staff, you may never have heard of fundoshi, which are a traditional type of Japanese loincloth underwear. If anything, you’ve probably seen characters wearing them if you watch any Japanese films or anime depicting the days of the samurai, or perhaps you’ve fallen in love with our very own team of hotties rocking the traditional undies for our in-house calendar.

Fundoshi are originally thought to have been imported from mainland China and/or other regions to the south and southeast of Japan (Southeast Asia, Polynesia, South America, etc.). When Japanese people first began wearing them, the price of cloth was extremely high, so only males of the upper class could afford to clothe themselves in these particular undergarments.

▼ There are many different types of fundoshi, and their functions are completely different.



Fundoshi rental shops first began to appear during the Edo period (1603-1868), and little by little they gradually became available to the common people. They were the undergarment of choice for Japanese people up until the end of World War II, when Western briefs and trunks eventually became more popular.

In other words, despite the fact that the vast majority of Japanese people wear Western-style underwear nowadays, fundoshi have an overwhelmingly longer reach within Japanese history. Sadly, like many other elements of traditional culture, the youth of Japan today often equate fundoshi with being “lame” and find them cumbersome to wear, so it’s unusual to find anyone who’s clearly a fan of them—that is, until one special man came along.

Keiji Nakagawa is a man who has championed efforts to counter the decline of fundoshi in the modern age. An acquaintance of his who regained his “manly vitality” by wearing fundoshi once encouraged him to wear fundoshi, and the comfort and health benefits they provided him with left a deep and lasting impression on him. In fact, he was so inspired that he decided to proclaim the wonders of fundoshi to the rest of the world by creating the Japan Fundoshi Association, along with establishing a brand of fundoshi by the name of SHAREFUN (a contraction of the phrase oshare na fundoshi; or “fashionable fundoshi”).

So just what is it about fundoshi that are making people see them in a new light again? We asked Mr. Nakagawa, now the Chairman of the Japan Fundoshi Association, to shed some light on the benefits of wearing fundoshi over other types of undergarments.

Check out the interview video and its corresponding translation below.

It seems like Mr. Nakagawa’s efforts to promote fundoshi have not been in vain, since more and more people are realizing the merits of the traditional underwear. In particular, there seems to be a trend of an increasing number of younger women who are beginning to wear fundoshi, citing reasons such as: “There’s not as much pressure,” “They have good airflow,” and “My blood circulation is better, so my stomach doesn’t get cold anymore.” With the exception of female pearl divers who once wore fundoshi while working, fundoshi have traditionally been worn by Japanese men, which makes this recent shift in female preference particularly fascinating.

All you need to make fundoshi is a piece of cloth, so we’d like to challenge everyone to try making and wearing your very own pair sometime. We’ll leave you with the following two instructional videos showing two different styles of wearing fundoshi for men and women. Get ready, folks, because a whole new world of comfort awaits!

▼ How to tie Ecchu Fundoshi (popular for men)

▼ How to tie Mokko Fundoshi (popular for women)

Related: Japan Fundoshi Association
All images © RocketNews24