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A sarashi is a long, winding strip of cloth, usually thick cotton, wrapped tightly around the midriff up to the chest. Historically worn under kimono both by Samurai (to resist injury) and by women (for more "obvious" reasons, particularly in eras when a slim figure was considered fashionable), the sarashi's samurai associations have made them a near-universal symbol of toughness in Japan.

While common in anime -- delinquents (particularly in classic, older series) will often be seen wearing one under their coat or unbuttoned shirt as a visible cue as to their general level of bad-assery -- this is a general Japanese cultural trope, often found in Real Life and applicable to women as well as to men. For female characters, however, a Sarashi may also serve as an accessory to a potentially boring outfit, as an aid to crossdressing, or simply as a means of breast support. In these cases the wrapping is usually pushed up a few inches to flatten the chest (usually) and the irony inherent in using such a traditional symbol of masculinity to aid (or disguise) femininity may or may not be deliberately invoked.

Of course, if it's a female samurai[1], a sarashi is pretty much a given.

Compare Bandage Babe.

Examples of Sarashi include:


Anime & Manga

  • Urusei Yatsura
    • Ryuunosuke wears a sarashi not only to demonstrate her tough, combative nature but also as a substitute for the bra her father wouldn't let her wear.
    • Tomibaro also has a sarashi, from his bushido lifestyle and traditional clothing choices.
  • Kuwabara in Yu Yu Hakusho wears a sarashi at different times throughout the series.
  • Ranma One Half
    • Ukyō Kuonji in wore one during her earlier appearances, but as she began to re-embrace her femininity it disappeared from her regular wardrobe.
    • Akane and Ranma (when locked in female form) also wear tight breast bindings when it's necessary to pass off as boys. Ironically, the incident which prompted Akane to wear one resulted in probably her most memorable Fan Service scene.
  • Back when Uotani, an accomplished delinquent, was still "in service" in Fruits Basket, she learns that she's in the same school as the daughter of her role model, the Red Butterfly. She pictures the girl as wearing a school skirt, carrying a katana, and wearing a sarashi. In the next page, she meets the "daughter": it's Tohru.
  • Love Hina
    • Motoko and Tsuruko Aoyama, trained swordswomen both, are occasionally seen with the sarashi bra version.
    • Kanako also uses it, for more pragmatic reasons: as a way to disguise herself whenever she's posing as someone else.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima
    • Likewise, Setsuna Sakurazaki, who belongs to the same sword school as in Love Hina above.
    • Kaede also uses sarashi as a bra, being a Ninja and everything.
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • Bleach
    • Part of Ichigo's ban-kai is this wrapping. Partially because of the badass look, partially because the first time he went bankai he was still recovering from several near death battles and three days of pummeling by the Anthropomorphic Personification of his sword.
    • Kenpachi wears one as well.
    • So does Yoruichi, who also uses sarashi as a bra.
    • Soifon wears a gigantic one to help keep her in one place when she uses her bankai.
  • Bandage-style wrappings seem to be a common fashion accessory in Naruto. At least one character is seen wearing them Sarashi-style. Prior to the timeskip, Ino wears them from her knees at least up to her midriff.
    • This is most likely a case of extremely creative inventory management. For shinobi, all-purpose bandages can be used for everything from bandaging wounds to bracing sprains/breaks to using them to ensnare an opponent to passing secret messages to igniting explosives, and then probably about a dozen other uses. However, because a shinobi can only wear so many equipment pouches, and a lot of their equipment is fairly bulky, it makes sense to carry bandages already worn on the body.
      • Unless you want to keep them sterile.
    • Kurenai almost seems to wear bandages in lieu of underwear, as her arms, torso, and upper thighs are all wrapped.
  • Akira Okuzaki from Mai-HiME wore these to hide a secret. Also, Ninja.
  • Goemon from Lupin III wears this.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • Ling Yao from the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and Brotherhood anime series wears these around both his waist and wrists, and wears an open jacket.
  • Throughout most of chapter 7 of Pretty Face, Randou wears some to try and flatten the fake breasts he's wearing at the time. The problem is, they're bonded to his chest by an extremely potent bonding agent that keeps them on for a full 24 hours, and they're huge when he was previously apparently flat. He spends most of two days unable to breathe properly as a result. Later another character slaps him on the back, causing the bandages to fall off. Hilarity Ensues when everyone sees that Yuna suddenly got MUCH larger breasts.
  • Ryuubi wears those under her martial arts uniform in Ikki Tousen Dragon Destiny to keep her ENORMOUS breasts under check. Of course, it only works to a degree.
  • Kagome, the elementary schooler in Asu no Yoichi, has one. This is because she's very... developed for her age, and she uses it to hide that she is. She ends up using the cotton to bandage her implied crush's wrist, but makes sure her chest is not noticeable.
  • An open shirt and sarashi appears to be the "uniform" of Haine's yanki gang in Shinshi Doumei Cross. Also kicks the Fan Service up a notch; yanki Haine is hot, and the rest of her gang doesn't do too bad either.
  • Erza Scarlet sports this look for an arc of Fairy Tail.
    • Specifically, she uses her magic to equip a pair of flame print hakama pants, the sarashi to preserve her modesty, and her hair in a ponytail, plus a pair of katanas. The lack of her usual armor significantly increases the Badass-ness.
  • Naeka tries one in an episode of Kamen no Maid Guy, in order to increase her math grades (by decreasing her bust size-it makes perfect sense in context). Unfortunately, the breasts tear through it, so Kogarashi gives her a solid steel breastplate (not a Breast Plate) to compensate. Which explodes violently in the middle of the exam.
  • Shigure in Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple, being raised in a more traditional environment, always wears sarashi and fundoshi instead of a bikini when she's on a beach or at a pool.
  • Kondo and Kyuubei (and a whole bunch of thugs) wear these in one ending sequence of Gintama. Kyuubei's was sort of a spoiler...
  • Mira Nygus from Soul Eater would probably qualify.
  • Delinquents Kunieda Aoi from Beelzebub wears a sarashi and nothing else on top aside from her Badass Longcoat.
  • Gantz: Daizemon Kaze has one of these in combination with the open coat. It's really just the icing of Badass on this Huge cake of awesome.
  • Canty in The Cherry Project wears one over her skating uniform, just because it looks cool.
  • In the Keroro Gunsou manga, Koyuki is seen wearing these a number of times.
  • Shana from Shakugan no Shana wears this in a few episodes.
  • Crane Yuzuriha in Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas.
  • Seen for two strips in Azumanga Daioh, with Tomo, Kagura and Sakaki dressed as "Boy Thugs" with bandage bras. Kaori was... excited to see Sakaki this way.
  • Suzu from Nagasarete Airantou. Also, Machi wears one.
  • In Samurai Champloo, Fuu is occasionally seen wearing one.
  • Sun when she crashed Nagasumi and Lunar's Shotgun Wedding in Seto no Hanayome.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index's Awaki Musujime wears one sometimes.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid
    • Harry Tribeca, being the leader of a gang of Delinquents, wears this under a long coat as part of her Barrier Jacket.
    • Micaiah Chevelle also has this as part of her Barrier Jacket. In her case, she's a Samurai Miko.
  • Rem from Death Note wears one.


Films -- Animation

  • Mulan, from the eponymous film, wore the breast-flattening version to pass as an Imperial soldier. The bandages she wears at the hospital tent also count.


Films -- Live Action

  • Viola in She's the Man uses an Ace bandage to flatten herself to pull of her crossdress masquerade, removing it only to shower and to flash the stadium at the end of the movie.
  • In some edits of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, Lee's character is able to figure out someone is a Japanese spy when he spots them in a sarashi.
  • Sometimes used symbolically even in samurai films. Even though presumably everyone should be wearing one, only the designated tough guys will actually be visibly wearing one.


Literature

  • Ichiko in Kamikaze Girls wears a sarashi as part of her bosuzoku outfit.
  • Ryougi Shiki of Karano Kyoukai wears sarashi more-or-less consistently instead of bras. Shiki is not a fan of Western clothing. Besides the leather jacket, that is, and that's just because Kokuto picked it out.

 "I have never worn anything but kimono."

  • Alanna the Lioness, from The Song of the Lioness, uses bandages to disguise herself as a boy while training as a knight. She is eventually found out by the court during a sword duel with the villain, who cuts through her shirt and the bandages accidentally, exposing her to the entire court. He was quite surprised.


Live Action TV


Tabletop Games

  • The githyanki of Dungeons and Dragons are sometimes depicted as wearing this kind of garment under their other clothes, or as the full extent of their clothes, particularly in the "Invasion!" metaplot exhibited in both Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Most often seen on their wizards in place of magic cloaks and robes, with runes of power and protection drawn along the whole length, enchanting them to protect as good as or better than most suits of regular armor.
    • Ember, the iconic monk, wears one as well.
  • One Eldar Farseer model for Warhammer 40000 has one worn over his robe.


Video Games

  • The (female) samurai in Disgaea wear a sarashi, hakama, uwagi, and geta. Also Yukimaru, though being a ninja she most likely wears it for more practical reasons.
  • The character customization parts of Soul Calibur III and IV allow you to equip a female character with a sarashi.
  • Female Ronin (Bushido) characters in Etrian Odyssey wear what looks almost like a standard Miko outfit... with the top open to show a sarashi underneath. Male Ronin, meanwhile, are Walking Shirtless Scenes.
  • In the World of Warcraft Auchenai Crypts, the male monks are running around bare-chested; the female monks are wearing what appear to be sarashi of the chest-wrap variety. Yeah.
    • In the "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion, two sarashi shirts (that only NPCs had been able to use previously) were added for players -- one with clean bandages, and one partially soaked in blood/antiseptic.
  • Touhou: Reimu wears sarashi under her sleeveless dress.
  • Kratos from God of War wears sarashi around his thigh.
  • Female monks in Guild Wars wear sarashi as underwear.
  • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time character Sheik has to qualify for this, and with good reason.
  • Included, along with just about everything else, in the wardrobe options of Saints Row 2.
  • Sarashi appear in the Ryu ga Gotoku games as equipable items that raise the wearer's defense. Also, in one scene in Yakuza 2, Kazuma is seen shirtless with bandages wrapped around his midriff; however, the scene occurs after he's been stabbed in the gut and mauled by tigers, so in this case their presence is more of a consequence than an outfit choice. Of course, this being Kazuma Kiryuu, they look pretty Badass anyway.
  • Naoto from Persona 4. For various reasons, although one of them leads to her Shadow trying to make the sarashi unnecessary...
  • In Rival Schools, the Gedo High team deliberately evokes the old gangster stereotypes, so it should come as no surprise when Project Justice reveals that Daigo wears one in his Wild Daigo form.


Web Comics

  • Yuuki from the webcomic Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki tried to use the bandage bra version to flatten her (well, actually, his) heroic "assets" but had to give up because she couldn't breathe.
  • Kit in Fey Winds.
  • Karen from Keychain of Creation.
  • Natani, a wolf assassin from Two Kinds.
  • The androgynous Gun Slinger Soli from The Meek wears a bandage bra, apparently because a cloth wrap is cheaper than a real bra.
  • One character in Venus Envy is a female-to-male transsexual who wears bindings. Someone else catches a glimpse of the bandages and jumps to the conclusion that he's a street fighter; Larson's response is basically Sure, Let's Go with That.
  • One character in The Law of Purple flirtatiously asks another if they'd like to see the character's sarashi. The response goes along the lines of, "I've already seen your sarashi enough" and another character asks what a sarashi is.
  • Discussed in Megatokyo, when Erika and Largo play a ninja fighting game. Largo admires the...bouncing animation for the very busy female ninja Erika plays at, and Erika comments that in reality it would be inconvenient to fight hanging out like that, and that a female ninja would more likely bind herself.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender wears wrappings similar to this as underclothes. Although there is no Word of God about it, but since the show is set in a heavily Asian-influenced universe, and probably some time in the past before bras were invented, it's just assumed that women (usually) wear them with casual clothes or clothes that don't give any support in the Avatar universe.


Real Life

  • It was the fashion in the late 80's-early 90's for Japanese "gangster girls" to wrap their chests.
  • It has become common among female cosplayers to use a sarashi to conceal their chests for cosplaying male characters (or Sheik).
    • Same goes for quite a few transmen who want to bind. Ace bandages are not recommended though, as they grow gradually tighter, and can break your ribcage.

Notes

  1. "Onnabugaisha", which extends to all female warriors, is the proper term because "samurai" should only be used for males, as it was in the Sengoku Period
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