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27 November 2012

Translated Novel: "Let's Fundoshi" Chapter 7

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

Read Chapter 1 first.

“But this is a very Japanese thing. You might not like it because of difference of religion and customs” said Gen. He seemed so considerate.

“Don’t worry. I know things like that” Jacques replied. Speaking of religion, Jacques’s family has been traditionally Catholic but actually he visited church a few times a year. He was not a dedicated Christian. He wouldn’t mind things like that.

Besides, as he learnt Japanese culture in his major, he was taught Shinto has been recognized as festivity rather than religion. Like even Japanese prime minister is Christian or Buddhist, he could visit Ise Gingu shrine. It is said Japanese Shinto does not hold strong faith. Shito is polytheist. Unlike monotheist Christianity, it is rather considered flexible in terms of how to be faithful. It is similar to Native Americans primitive religion that admires nature as divinity.  

The origin of the festival was that during Edo period, a big tsunami hit the town and flooded the shrine which ended up pulling enshrined body to the shallow in the sea. Then local fishermen at that time carried that back to the shrine.

Next day, towners gathered in Watanabe’s to discuss festival matters. Yuriko joined as a member of the organizer family. Participants were mostly shrine parishioners but young boys, middle age and elderly men who would be carriers of the mikoshi (portable shrine that contains enshrined body) attended as well. Gen and Taro were among them.   

At the shrine, ceremony of purification would be done and then the mikoshi will be carried by the men, women, young and old until near the beach. From the beach to the shallow was men’s job. That was called “Sea walk.”

Jacques made a proposal for the preparation as an organizer. The proposal as a responsible man in charge of the festival matter. He took off his Yukata to show his proposal. Jacques stood and others sitting on tatami (straw mat) floor looking up to him.

“This year we are going to wear this for the Sea Walk.”

All the members looked at him shocked.

“Isn’t this Fundoshi?” one man said.

Jacques was only in white rokushaku fundoshi and bandana and tabi shoes.


“Jacques-san, why are you wearing this?” said Taro.

“Because this is tradition of the festival.”

“Why, are you, foreigner propose that?” said another.

“I am in charge of this festival so I want to do things successfully and make it joyful for those who carry mikoshi and those who view that.”

“But showing bare ass, we don’t want to do that” said one young man.

“If you want to do that, why don’t you do that alone?” said another young man.

“No. All of us have to do “Sea Walk” in this fundoshi. If not, significance of the ceremony is denied.”

“We don’ t want to be told what to do by a foreigner like you” said another man.

“So are you really a Japanese man? Don’t you mind changing form of traditional ceremony that runs for centuries? Before you treat me as outsider, why not ask yourself how much you know about yourselves?”  


All of the sudden, people became silent for a while.

Taro stood up.

“Jacques-san is right. If we cannot carry mikoshi in fundoshi, we would never be truly Japanese men. It is an insult to the enshrined as long as we loathe our own tradition .

Again, silence. Then Yuriko spoke out.

“Taro is right. It seemed only those who truly understand Japanese tradition here are Taro and my husband, Jacques. For women, it was just great to view guys’ bare asses lined up.” Yuriko tried to support the two men.

“Yuriko, let me join. I believe I’ve got good son in law.” Taizo said. “When I was Jacques’s age, all the men wore fundoshi in festival. It was a uniform for the festival and all of us together bathed in the sea getting fundoshi wet. All of us got unified. That was a most shining moment of our life.”

Taizo smiled. His eyes sparkled. He looked happier than ever.

Finally proposal that all the men participating in “Sea Walk” wear fundoshi on naked bodies was approved.


To be continued to Chapter 8

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