These days, it seems everyone is exposing a bare midriff out and about!
But the Japanese traditionally avoid exposing the central, vital organs to the elements and instead wisely insulate them in a haramaki or belly warmer.
If you’ve never heard of a belly warmer, this article will explain what a haramaki is and the benefits of covering up your gut!
We‘ll also share amazing Japanese belly warmers, including the top 3 haramaki that are trending right now!
what is a haramaki?
Haramaki (腹巻), which directly translates as belly (‘hara’) and band (‘maki’) bellyband in English, is an unusual item of Japanese clothing that is made specifically for covering the abdomen (stomach and loins).
Unlike loincloths, corsets, belts, and girdles, the haramaki is made from a continuous band of fabric with at most a single seam.
These are not the more ostentatious obi-belts of the geishas; the haramaki was intended to be a simple, understated undergarment with health, military and religious connotations.
History of Haramaki
You see, the haramaki was not originally intended to be a fashion item.
In fact – Wearing one was an especially somber affair. The loin garment has its roots in the Shinto religion and the military campaigns of the Japanese empire.
Japanese soldiers wore these garments as spiritual armor. They were made of simple white fabric with red stitches and some form of fastening.
Like other cultures, in Japan, girding the loins is associated with spiritual strength and protection on the battlefield.
The original haramaki was known as senninbari (千人針), meaning thousand stitch belt.
The talisman was sewn with a thousand by the female family and relatives of the soldier with each stitch representing protective prayers.
Health benefits of the haramaki
Wearing haramaki is also associated with good health.
Much like that aged relative that tells you to wrap up warm, the Japanese are also proponents of keeping the abdominal areas well insulated, pointing to the improved musculoskeletal, digestive, and reproductive health that comes from doing this.
This makes sense as organs including the liver, kidney, spleen, and digestive tract are high-perfusion organs that need a lot of blood.
Keeping them warm with a haramaki supports good blood flow and optimal organ function.
Though a haramaki is a unisex item that can be worn by women and men, they are favored by women because of the support and comfort provided to the waist and reproductive organs especially when pregnant.
Haramaki can also boost your sense of well-being, kinda like a big hug.
You can even wear your haramaki to sleep in a cozy secure kind of way. A soft fabric band is incredibly cozy.
Haramaki are now a contemporary fashion item
Contemporary Japanese culture has flipped the script and embraced the haramaki as a quirky fashion accessory, irrespective of its heritage.
In true Japanese style, it comes in a zillion colors, fabrics, and styles and can be coordinated with just about any kind of clothing.
Modern haramaki are extremely versatile
These fun original fashion accessories are a great way to add a new layer or color pop to your regular clothing.
Hatamaki are very sustainable garments as you can wear them to create a new look without buying a whole new outfit.
This saves money and preserves natural resources.
Versatile and unique Japanese clothing
In the west, these belly bands are unusual and unique, a definite conversation starter.
Their simplicity and easy wearing have made them increasingly popular as gifts or treats.
They have been embraced by the well-being sector who promotes them as a yoga or comfort accessory.
Soft, organic cotton haramaki with a touch of lycra are now the modern lifestyle version of this garment.
There are hundreds of eco-companies that produce handcrafted haramaki as ethical and comfortable clothing.
You can wear your Haramaki 24/7
These Japanese belly warmers are so comfortable and supportive that they can be worn all day long.
Some folks live in their haramaki, even wearing it to bed at night. Haramaki are lightweight and not tight meaning you’ll be able to move freely while wearing one.
At night the Haramaki covers and protects the lower back from cold chills, and on cold days this garment is perfect for layering.
The supportive band is also specifically sold to help manage ailments like backache, irritable bowel, and menstrual pain.
A haramaki is not out of place in your gym kit.
Though it cannot be used to support your back for strenuous activity, it can be a welcome, sweat-absorbing layer for workouts like aerobics or spinning.
Macho men wear their marakami extra tight
Men are also known to bind their abs with a long piece of fabric haramaki style.
In this case, it is worn much like a tight loin clot and has been appropriated as a martial arts-style costume display.
In Japan – Many elders are perplexed at these old-man undergarments being championed by the youth and shockingly worn as outerwear!
How to wear a haramaki
You belly band is a simple elasticated fabric band that in some circles could pass for a mini-skirt, but actually is for the midriff only.
Most of these items won’t have zips, ties, or any embellishments.
The upper end of the haramaki is narrower than the lower end of the open over the hips.
Simply pull on over your feet and ensure that the small of the back ad midriff are fully covered.
This video explains a little more about wearing this popular eco-garment:
Top 3 Haramaki trending right now
Haramaki has definitely become a worldwide trend, with these fabric accessories worn by people of all ages and walks of life. Cultural appropriation it is!
But there are three types of haramaki that are particularly popular because they are a unique solution for key everyday clothing issues.
1. Maternity haramaki
Haramaki have become essential pregnancy wear for mamas who want to take a load of their burgeoning bump.
Though the haramaki is not a supportive garment it is amazingly practical for covering up a rapidly swelling bump, getting some extra wear out of pre-pregnancy jeans and trousers once you can’t do them up.
These popular belly bands are a worthwhile investment for your maternity wardrobe because they come in so many colors and styles.
The soft and breathable haramaki are perfect for wicking away sweat and keeping your belly. They layer beautifully with shorter tops or low-riding pants.
Maternity haramaki transition beautifully to the post-partum period.
Good quality haramaki will stretch with your bump and snap back to be just as comfortable for your post-partum tummy.
If you are recovering from a c-section, the gentle band will help keep your operative wound comfortable and keep good circulation in the area to support wound healing.
Ladies who have had a natural delivery also benefit from the abdomen being gently braced by a haramaki.
2. Sports and yoga haramaki
If you are interested in fitness and wellness, you’ll know how important the core is to physical well-being.
Health and fitness enthusiasts spend hours working on core strength, and having a haramaki as an extra layer close to the skin or as an outer layer gives sports and dance enthusiasts added awareness of their center.
Sports & Yoga Haramaki
Cold-weather runners and winter sports players may also benefit from the warmth a haramaki can provide as it keeps the abdominal muscles supple and protects them from injury.
Movement and yoga practitioners love the heat-generating effect of the belly band that can aid their flexibility and flow.
Dancers and sports people appreciate a soft and elasticated haramaki that moves easily with their body and speeds up the warm-up process.
The garment can also promote better posture. Jersey, lycra, and cotton haramaki layer easily and can easily be removed.
If you have an active lifestyle, a variety of specialist sports versions are available to add to your wardrobe.
3. Haramaki for modesty
In many cultures and communities, women seek to have a modest appearance.
But keeping skin covered up should not exclude girls and women from accessing contemporary fashions that they may really like.
Many women who dress modestly already wear undergarments that raise their neckline or cover their upper arms, so a belly band for the midriff is a no-brainer.
This is why many modest women accessorize their outfits with the haramaki. The range of colors and styles makes it easy for ladies to accessorize and coordinate their outfits perfectly.
A belly band beautifully covers the midriff allowing stylish and colorful crop tops or low-cut items to be worn with confidence.
Haramaki definitely isn’t fast fashion. This simple, collectible garment comes with a rich history and numerous benefits for your health and well-being.
If you haven’t got one in your wardrobe now is the time to wrap up in style with your own belly band!
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