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haramaki, waist warmer
February 28, 2008 1:09 AM   Subscribe

In Japan haramaki were originally worn as part of samurai armor to protect the stomach and kidneys. They have evolved to become a handy winter fashion accessory, which keeps the whole body warm.

They are worn in the West by bikers and snowboarders. In the East they are worn by some guys, a comfort to pregnant women (or for cramps) and byTibetan grannies and grandpas as well. The idea is that if one warms the kidneys, the blood that circulates will be warmed.

They come simple, jeweled, in neoprene, lo-tech, in sheepskin, pink stretch satin, DIY or just cheap.
posted by nickyskye (44 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nope. Still ugly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:32 AM on February 28, 2008


That is actually... cute. *contemplates her own DIY*
posted by Phire at 1:43 AM on February 28, 2008


They've got a serious thing here in Japan for bellies. A focus on the lower central torso that's, well, deeply ingrained in the culture somehow. And indeed, it does seem to keep one warmer overall, to wear this kind of thing. Never really got into it myself, though. Part of how I maintain cherished "outsider" status!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:03 AM on February 28, 2008


Very interesting. Great post.
posted by farishta at 2:48 AM on February 28, 2008


Seems like they'd be rather ghastly looking for the, em, heroically portly amongst us. I'll stick to sleeveless sweaters.
posted by hjo3 at 3:21 AM on February 28, 2008


Does that mean that, in the winter, I can walk around naked (except for the haramaki, that is) in the house without getting my feet cold? Neat. Although I'll believe it when I try it.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 3:51 AM on February 28, 2008


I applaud this fashion trend, but only because I wand clothing derived from the European transitional armour. Fluted paldrons here I come!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:01 AM on February 28, 2008


Does that mean that, in the winter, I can walk around naked (except for the haramaki, that is) in the house without getting my feet cold?

Sure! That is, if you have underfloor heating! It's been a standard feature in many Korean homes for a long time, and has caught on in Japan as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:12 AM on February 28, 2008


Seems like they'd be rather ghastly looking for the, em, heroically portly amongst us.

Heh heh! Or, as someone else put it, in the comments at the linked site: "Anyway, we Americans don’t need this, because we have a lot of fat around the middle to keep us warm :)"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:19 AM on February 28, 2008


A perfect accessory to my merkin and codpiece. So now, when I get up in the morning, it's, "Merkin, codpiece, haramaki, legwarmers..." and so on.
posted by not_on_display at 4:55 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


But I'm concerned that it may make my fanny-pack slip. Is there an accessory that holds the fanny-pack to the haramaki? Hiking my fanny-pack up constantly would be embarrassing, not to mention codpiece displacement.
posted by not_on_display at 4:59 AM on February 28, 2008


Why can't I just wear pink long underwear?
posted by DU at 5:55 AM on February 28, 2008


There's a trad Chinese thing called the 肚兜 (dùdōu) or 兜肚 (dōudu) that covers the belly. I've mostly seen kids wearing them but it makes for some sexy women's wear too.
I was interested to note how blokes here will roll up their T-shirt to expose the belly when it's hot in summer in the way back home we'd open a shirt at the neck.
posted by Abiezer at 6:05 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I've known these in Canada as "belly bands" but haramaki is a much nicer word.
I agree that they are really cute.
posted by loiseau at 6:05 AM on February 28, 2008


I've never understood the point of cold-weather gear for the torso alone. In what kind of weather does one need to warm one's core, which is for most people the very last thing to get cold, and not their arms as well?
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:43 AM on February 28, 2008


Sweet, my portly ass has been waiting for the men's girdle to come back into vogue!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:47 AM on February 28, 2008


Uther - cummerbund!
posted by Abiezer at 7:07 AM on February 28, 2008


DO WANT. How long do you think this trend will take to come to the States?
posted by desjardins at 7:19 AM on February 28, 2008


I'm sitting here with a shawl wrapped around my belly. WANT ONE.
posted by kalimac at 7:25 AM on February 28, 2008


How is this different than wearing an undershirt?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:31 AM on February 28, 2008


Green Eyed Monster: From a clothing style perspective, it looks like a way to add a layer of color or pattern that comes out from underneath the primary layer without adding bulk or a full layer of clothing. For women who like wearing short shirts or jackets, it covers the area that would normally be exposed below the shirt and above the skirt/dress/pants.

In the West, most people, especially men, don't heavily mix and match colors, patterns, and textures. That's probably why the idea of adding a partial layer that isn't very functional seems so strange. In Japan, it's very common to do that, especially among the younger generation.
posted by junesix at 7:45 AM on February 28, 2008


mitrovarr- I think it's not the kind of weather but the kind of person. For me, putting on a beater under my tshirt makes me alot warmer than wearing sweater. It's not that my chest is cold and my arms aren't, just that insulating my core well traps more heat than insulating the extremities, and the heat that wasn't lost is "sent" to my arms and legs. But if your body doesn't naturally produce some threshold amount of heat then maybe minimizing loss from the extremities, instead of maximizing intake, is the ticket?
posted by MNDZ at 7:47 AM on February 28, 2008


If you keep your torso warm your extremities don't get cold.
posted by zeoslap at 7:48 AM on February 28, 2008


To expand, the reason your extremities get cold is that when your core starts getting cold your body restricts blood flow to the extremities in order to keep your major organs warm. So if you keep your core warm your body doesn't need to restrict that flow and the fresh warm blood keeps you warm.
posted by zeoslap at 7:51 AM on February 28, 2008


flapjax at midnite, the hara (literally "belly") is "considered the physical center of gravity for the human body and by extension the seat of one's internal energy" which at least partially explains the Japanese fixation with it.
posted by tommasz at 8:01 AM on February 28, 2008


For some reason, my upper back is always frigid when the temperature is below, like, eighty. It's like the rest of me can feel warm and cozy but somehow an invisible bag of ice cubes always finds its way down the back of my thermals. Previously, the only way I've found to handle the cold is to wrap scarves around my chest like some sort of high riding tube top (moob top?) but they never really manage to stay in place. Maybe one of these put on upside down will be unobtrusive and stable enough to be the answer to all my winter problems. Thanks, hopefully.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:05 AM on February 28, 2008


Given the recent trend toward women's tops being trapezoidal sacks that billow out over the tummy area, this is a pretty good idea.
posted by casarkos at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


i'd be interested in it's girdle properties.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:23 AM on February 28, 2008


Not enough clothing takes it's cues from medieval armors. I think I would get a lot more respect in my office meetings if I were wearing some greaves.

And is it just me, or does the neoprene haramaki look suspiciously like a lumbar support?
posted by quin at 9:29 AM on February 28, 2008


Dang, I'm pretty into these. If only I had the flat to pull it off.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:51 AM on February 28, 2008


Years ago, living in North India around Tibetan refugees, I noticed the old folks (to me then anyone over 40) wore a scarf or shawl wrapped around their waist or a short wool apron turned around in back. I asked what it was and was told by warming their back their whole body would be warm. Since I suffered horrendous menstrual cramps and aching focused mostly in the kidney area, especially in cold weather, I decided to try it. What I did was take a cotton t shirt a size too small for me so it was slightly tight, cut off the top and put the tube on, fold it over, so it warmed my waist. Amazing comfort, especially when sitting in meditation or for a long time.

Then, when I became a street vendor in 1986 in NYC and faced standing outside all day in the long, bitter winters here I found by buying a neoprene belt in the cheap link above worked astonishingly well to keep me warm. Having one of those belts on, no need to wear any kind of coat, especially nothing bulky, until below 40 degrees F (4C), providing greater mobility while setting up, selling and breaking down the display. What zeoslap said, warming the core, in particular the kidneys, warms not only the trunk of the body but also the extremities. That would make sense why bikers, snowboarders and anyone else wear them. At home, with the computer next to the drafty window, a lightweight haramaki is very nice.

Now I rarely wear anything but a light coat in winter, even near freezing temps, because I use a haramaki under my shirt. They do work wonderfully.
posted by nickyskye at 9:58 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found some for sale at Etsy.
posted by clearlydemon at 12:19 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I'd love something like this. I forever feel like my lower back is cold. Where can I buy??
posted by Zinger at 2:33 PM on February 28, 2008


Dang, I'm pretty into these. If only I had the flat to pull it off.

Hey, no problem, you can wear these in any kind of apartment!

And by the way, wemayfreeze, this is the perfect post for you to get eponysterical in!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:14 PM on February 28, 2008


Ha! I didn't even catch that. Dang.

BTW, this is the thread where people start using "flat" to mean the opposite of fat, k?
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:27 PM on February 28, 2008


K!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 PM on February 28, 2008


Elemenopee!!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 PM on February 28, 2008


Belly bands appear to be for when you're pregnant. There are these, however:

http://www.e-budostore.com/special.htm

and

http://www.yogagurl.com/shop/YGA11.htm

I've no idea if either one of these shops is reputable, and I have no affiliation, I just googled 'til these came up. However I'm going to try the Budostore. (This post happened to catch me on a day when I felt absolutely frozen all day...)
posted by Zinger at 6:38 PM on February 28, 2008


Amazing, now I want one too!
posted by hadjiboy at 11:10 PM on February 28, 2008


Zinger: Belly bands appear to be for when you're pregnant.

Oh, no, I definitely heard them called that maybe 3 (?) or so years ago when layering was first big. They were for layering underneath. I made one, which, now that I think of it, I seem to have lost.

casarkos: Given the recent trend toward women's tops being trapezoidal sacks that billow out over the tummy area, this is a pretty good idea.

On behalf of women with non-flat bellies and large breasts, longer and non-clingy shirts are the best thing that's happened in fashion in my lifetime. They're long enough to cover extra chest mileage and don't require pulling away clinging fabric from the less-than-perfect waist. I hope it never goes out of style.
posted by loiseau at 8:39 AM on February 29, 2008


Oh, I wanted to add, I wear these really long American Apparel t-shirt dresses and it serves the same purpose (though not with a pocket!) I've got a bunch of them -- actually I'm wearing a red one right now. They are amaaaaazing in the winter as a bottom layer (keeps butt warm and no cold air gets in under my shirt) and will still be cute in the summer because they're more or less sleeveless. Hint: you can get American Apparel stuff way cheaper on Ebay. I use these guys and they're fantastic, but you can also just search on "american apparel" + the style number.
posted by loiseau at 10:29 AM on February 29, 2008


What will Japanese fashion come up with next...
posted by easy_being_green at 10:38 AM on February 29, 2008


Just as a follow up I can confirm the Budostore I linked to above delivers as promised - quickly too!

And yes, I am toasty warm now!
posted by Zinger at 6:57 AM on March 11, 2008


What do they look like, Zinger? In the pictures in the store you can't really tell (or I can't, anyway).
posted by loiseau at 9:41 PM on March 11, 2008


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