One of the reasons I truly love living in Japan is that there is always something new to discover. In the past 2 weeks my new thing has been Haramaki. Originally prescribed for warmth by my acupuncturist, now I cannot live in this colder weather without one.
The haramaki were originally made for samurai to wear under their armor as protective belly/waist protection. Since then, they have evolved to fluffy, cloth under-layers. Hara means belly and maki means wrap, and the Japanese believe they have some important functions. According to the NukuNuku (which means warm and cozy in Japanese) website, which makes and sells Haramaki in the U.K., haramaki not only warm, but might even aid in digestive functions and ease menstrual cramps. They definitely raise a person’s core temperature, which keeps the entire body warm, right down to the toes. They also have side functions of covering up exposed body parts that could be unsightly, caused by the fashion of low-slung jeans. There are even pregnancy haramaki that support the ever-expanding belly.
Men, women, children – anyone can wear haramaki and no one else has to know it. I will admit that sometimes it’s slightly challenging to tuck it in properly and make it lie flat while pulling up one’s pants after using the loo, or any other time pulling up pants is required.
As for me, I’m looking for warmth without bulk. Very thin, the Japanese haramaki are knitted and colorful. They surround my belly and sit on my hips snugly. I am warm inside which has made a huge difference in how the rest of my body feels. Heck, it has yet to be proven, but maybe my heating bill might be lower this winter. We shall see.
I would highly recommend trying one, wherever you might live.