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Sarashi
For her and for him.

A sarashi is a long 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), its association with warriors has made it a near-universal symbol of toughness in Japan.

While common in anime — Japanese 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 Badassery — 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 in crossdressing, or simply as a way to prevent Gainaxing. In these cases the wrapping is pushed up a few inches to cover and flatten the chest (usually), and the irony inherent in using such a traditional symbol of masculinity to accentuate or disguise femininity may be deliberately invoked.

Of course, if it's a female samurainote , a sarashi is pretty much a given.

Compare Bandage Babe.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Junko Hattori from Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou has both a Sarashi and a Fundoshi
  • 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 YuYu Hakusho wears a sarashi at different times throughout the series.
  • Ranma ˝
    • Ukyō Kuonji 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 Fanservice 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: In keeping with the samurai motif, shinigami tend to wear this under their uniforms. However, it's usually only exposed if the shinigami is heavily bandaged, whether female or male. In a few cases, such as Kenpachi or some of Ichigo's bankai appearances, the sarashi is displayed as part of a rugged, badass image. Soifon has a special one made of metal that is gigantic in both size and length. It's part of her bankai and is used to control the recoil created by firing a Fantastic Nuke from her arm.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Due to being a traditional samurai (and occasional Mr. Fanservice) Goemon from Lupin III wears the sarashi. Bathing scenes with him will use either just the Fundoshi, or the fundoshi and sarashi.
  • 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 Fanservice up a notch; yanki Haine is hot, and the rest of her gang doesn't do too bad either.
  • Erza Scarlet sports this look as one of her most frequently equipped armors in Fairy Tail, combined with a pair of flame print hakama pants, 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.
  • Delinquent 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.
  • A Certain Magical Index's Awaki Musujime wears one sometimes.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid
    • 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.
  • The Yakuza that almost rape Sara Uchida in Kasei Yakyoku wear this. It's also a pretty important detail, since one of them had a a knife concealed in his; Sara snatches it and turns the tables on them.
  • In Waratte! Sotomura-san, a girl asked Sotomura where to buy Sarashi under the assumption she was using one. Sotomura was so ashamed of the fact she had no need of Sarashi she played the Sure, Let's Go with That trope.
  • Oh Edo Rocket: While sarashi are a given in an Edo period setting, only designated action hero Ginjiro's is visible.

    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.
    • Not so much by what he's wearing but in how he's wearing it. The man's nipples were exposed, as is standard for Japanese men (as in the page image); Chinese prefer to keep them hidden.
  • 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 Kara no 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."
    • Of course, a montage shot in Paradox Spiral (movie version) shows A LOT of bras...for some reason...
  • Alanna the Lioness, from Song of the Lioness, uses bandages to disguise herself as a boy while training as a knight, and eventually upgrades to a special corset. She is eventually found out by the court during a sword duel with the villain, who cuts through her shirt and the corset accidentally, exposing her to the entire court. He was quite surprised.
  • The protagonist of Parrotfish, Grady, wears one to make his chest appear flat because he is a FtM Transsexual.

    Live Action TV 

    Music 
  • The page image is of the Vocaloids Rin and Len Kagamine each modeling their gender's version.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The githyanki of Dungeons & 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 40,000 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.
  • 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 Bad Ass 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.
  • Asuka Kazama of the Tekken series wears sarashi as part of her 'Yakuza Diceroller' special costume designed by Oh! Great in Tekken 5. In Tekken 6, one of the pieces of her alternate matsuri outfit is a pair of shorts made from cloth wraps.
  • The Pokémon Croagunk has a pair of white bands around its midsection that are clearly intended to evoke the appearance of sarashi.
  • Anghel's human form has these big time in Hatoful Boyfriend.
  • According to her C-Support with a female Robin, Badass Princess Say'ri from Fire Emblem Awakening wears sarashi.
  • Daidōji from Senran Kagura wears one as a bra (not that it does anything to prevent Gainaxing.) Fitting, since she's the "manliest" of all the girls.
  • The Matrix Path Of Neo during the first training level, Neo's Mortal Kombat-esque outfit has this on top of it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Enchanted In The Moonlight, Shinra in his oni form wears sarashi under his loosely-tied, part-open kimono, visually denoting him as a physical fighter and a bit of a thug.

    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 TwoKinds.
  • The androgynous Gunslinger 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.
  • Samurai Jack is shown to have one under his robe.

    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.


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alternative title(s): Breast Binding
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