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06 November 2012

Translated Novel: "Let's Fundoshi" Chapter 6

A Candadin man experiences FUNDOSHI, Japanese traditional male underwear, swimming suit and custume for festival.

Read Chapter 1 first.

“That’s right.”

“No. I never saw men in fundoshi in the festival. They wore short pants and naked in upper body.”

“You might not remember but before you grow up, all the men carrying the mikoshi wore fundoshi on their naked bodies. Then they crossed the ocean in that outfit.”

Jacques said “you mean summer festival. Will that be held this year as well?”

“Yes, this year we will be the hosting family as captain and organizer.”

“Oh, really?”  Jacques became very curious. 

“Yeah, but the festival has become less attractive these days. Originally, men carry mikoshi crossing the ocean wishing for health and safety and success in fishing. When the festival started a long, long time ago, all the fishermen wore fundoshi so we followed the tradtion but some youngsters started to feel ashamed of exposing ass.

When I was young, nobody was. Actually that kind of outfit has significance because girls could find their most suitable type of guy among naked group. My late wife once told me she chose me because she liked my ass that she saw in the festival.”
Yuriko looked surprised so did Jacques.

Why Japanese guys have become ashamed of fundoshi, Jacques decided to search it on internet. What he found was that as Taro explained, it was mainly due to westernization of Japanese lifestyle. Since late 19th century, Japan has actively acquired western culture to modernize the nation. As a consequence cloth has changed like kimono to western cloth. Because men started to wear pants, fundoshi as underwear could not fit to new cloth. So men changed underwear as well.

Fundoshi as swimwear was seen as barbaric from westerner’s perspective because bare ass is exposed on the beach or swimming pool. In the old days, Japanese olympic swimmers practice in fundoshi but in tournament they changed to modern swimwear.

As industrialization progressed, modern swimwear has become cheaper to purchase so fundoshi has become less common. In the old days, ordinary citizens had no choice but to wear fundoshi.  In that sense, modern swimwear was convenient choice to use when it comes to putting on and off to do thing in restroom.


Nowadays fundoshi is only worn by sumo wrestlers and men in festivals as entertaining. But in festivals fundoshi has become less seen. Because people wear less frequently making it less chance to see men in fundoshi. It has become embarrassing thing to show and see. Now men in festival wear short pants which cover their ass and thighs, instead of fundoshi.


But festival should succeed some kind of tradition from the old time. Should people abandon it just because it does not match current style? As Taro said, it is a matter of identity. Can Japanese do things like that without hesitation?


Next day Taro’s father Gen visited Watanabe’s place to hand over duty as organizer of summer festival. This year was Watanabe family’s term. Gen and Taizo were both fishermen and parishioners of the local shrine. Each parishioner family has to host and facilitate annual festival in rotation.


That role was played by male head of the family and its first adult son or husband of first daughter. As host, they had to lead the mikoshi march which was biggest event in the festival. They have to be in the front of mikoshi carrying bar and calling out to the carriers as captain.


But Gen looked at him strangely and said, “Can you do that? Taizo seems not well and you are foreigner.”

Jacques got angry and replied,

“Sure, I can. Don’t treat me like a fool.”


Continued to Chapter 7

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