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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

sarashi さらし (White Cloth Worn Around Torso)

In Japanese, sarashi さらし, meaning literally "bleached," typically refers to a piece of white cloth worn around the chest by women, and around the torso by men.

It's also spelled .

Anrakutei Kukuru 暗落亭苦来, Kuurubiyuutei Gankyou 空琉美遊亭丸京, Buratei Marii 蕪羅亭魔梨威, Bouhatei Tetora 防波亭手寅, Haroukitei Kigurumi 波浪浮亭木胡桃, example of sarashi さらし.
Leftmost: Anrakutei Kukuru 暗落亭苦来
Left: Kuurubiyuutei Gankyou 空琉美遊亭丸京
Center: Buratei Marii 蕪羅亭魔梨威
Right: Bouhatei Tetora 防波亭手寅
Rightmost: Haroukitei Kigurumi 波浪浮亭木胡桃
Anime: Joshiraku じょしらく (Episode 7)

Meaning

The word sarashi means literally "bleached." It's the noun form of the following verb:

  • sarasu
    晒す
    To expose.
    To bleach.

From this meaning, you can guess a sarashi was originally a bleached cloth.

The sarashi was worn around by men around the torso, and later by women around the chest. This has the side-effect of hiding the volume of one's breasts if they're bound tightly.

  • sarashi wo maku
    さらしを巻く
    To wrap a sarashi around [one's chest].
    To bind. (LGBT slang.)

Tropes

In anime, male characters that wear a sarashi tend to be samurai 侍, warriors, etc. Girls that wear a sarashi also tend to be masculine, like female delinquents (sukeban スケバン) that can beat guys in a fight.

  • otoko-masari
    男勝り
    "Man-besting." A girl that wins against a guy in a fight.

Examples

For reference, some examples of characters that use a sarashi:

Female

Kunieda Aoi 邦枝葵, Tanimura Chiaki 谷村千秋, Oomori Nene 大森寧々, members of the gang Red Tail, 烈怒帝瑠.
Middle: Kunieda Aoi 邦枝葵
Left: Tanimura Chiaki 谷村千秋
Right: Oomori Nene 大森寧々
Anime: Beelzebub, べるぜバブ (Episode 8, Stitch)
  • Context: a gang of female delinquents.
Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル, wearing a sarashi 晒 on her chest to hide the fact she's a girl.
Character: Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル
Anime: Mayo Chiki! まよチキ! (Episode 2)

Male

Sagara Sanosuke 相楽佐之助, example of character wearing a sarashi さらし.
Left: Sekihara Tae 関原妙
Right: Sagara Sanosuke 相楽佐之助
Anime: Samurai X, Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚- (Episode 4, Stitch)
  • Context: Sagara wears sarashi.
Simon シモン, Kamina カミナ, example of sarashi さらし.
Rightmost: Simon シモン
Second rightmost: Kamina カミナ
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, 天元突破グレンラガン (Episode 1)
  • Context: Kamina and his fellow villagers wear sarashi. In particular, the background character at left wears it around his neck, apparently as an accessory like a scarf.

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