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  • Saijun
    • Jul 2010
    • 667


    Hello friends,

    Generally when I sit, I sit wearing whatever clothing I find myself in at that time. However, my "work clothes" aren't exactly designed for the positions that I find myself in when sitting, and this may be shortening their life. As such, I'm considering sewing some sitting-specific clothing as a little side project. However, I'm curious as to thoughts regarding what "style." Loose fitting, obviously. Comfortable, I'd hope so.

    However, I'm curious as to the purpose of the so-called "Lay Robe"...


    ...beyond it being sort of similar to a monk's under-robes. I can see how the sleeves would work well as a mudra-rest, but I'm just a bit curious as to what others who may have experience with this think as compared to maybe a set of scrubs, or some Thai fisherman's pants and a tee shirt?

    Thank you for any input you could offer.

    Metta and Gassho,

    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB
  • Dokan
    Friend of Treeleaf
    • Dec 2010
    • 1222

    Re: Under-robes

    I find Tai Chi pants work quite well. Also I have wore my juban on occasion, but the sleeves are not cut for the kesa and so it's a bit problematic.

    90% of the time however I just wear shorts & a t-shirt.


    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anaïs Nin


    • Undo
      • Jun 2007
      • 495

      Re: Under-robes

      For Zazenkai sittings I like to wear something special like these

      Failing that yoga pants work well. If you can, have a look at climbing or bouldering clothing. They tend to be more loose fitting arround the knees and crutch. I've found them great for longer sits.


      • Dokan
        Friend of Treeleaf
        • Dec 2010
        • 1222

        Re: Under-robes

        If I could find those I would buy them and wear them to a sesshin...just to break out of the norm.

        Too funny.


        We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
        ~Anaïs Nin


        • Ankai
          Treeleaf Unsui
          • Nov 2007
          • 912

          Re: Under-robes

          The monks at the Chan monastery by me wear something that looks sort of like a grey martial arts uniform under their robes. When I was staying there, I had a pair of Tai Chi pants, but then switched to some plain, cheap, lightweight black medical scrubs, like doctors and nurses wear. I still use them for Zazen, and they're so incredibly comfortable that I wear them at work (I'm a cook) too.
          Scrub pants go for from about 8 to 12 bucks at WalMart.
          護道 安海

          -Godo Ankai

          I'm still just starting to learn. I'm not a teacher. Please don't take anything I say too seriously. I already take myself too seriously!


          • Taylor
            • May 2010
            • 388

            Re: Under-robes

            I own a pair of Thai fisherman's pants, they're great for sitting/ yoga.

            But shorts and t shirt work just fine as well


            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39456

              Re: Under-robes

              Originally posted by Saijun
              However, I'm curious as to the purpose of the so-called "Lay Robe"...

              Hi Saijun,

              The "purpose" of a "lay robe" such as this is primarily to "look Chinese", and thus make one feel that one is practicing "authentic Zen" because one is dressing like Fu Manchu.

              Ah, sure, the robe is loose fitting and comfortable, and the sleeves are a good places to keep things (I know several Japanese monks who keep their cigarettes and lighter there), but otherwise ... any comfortable, non-constricting, loose fitting and generally dark (not bright, busy patterns, to limit sensory stimulation in our "quiet room" sitting) clothes will do. (Perhaps our tea master, John, knows some other practical uses for such clothes?) The sleeves also serve to keep sweat off my Kesa, I must admit, as I put the arms with "cosmic mudra" over the sleeves, and not directly on the kesa. However, a towel will do that too.

              In this Sangha, we hold the Kesa as precious, enveloping the whole universe and the Buddha's teachings.

              But the rest of the Chinese/Japanese look ... well, good to dress that way if an ancient Chinese or Japanese I suppose. I wear my "full gear" once in awhile, for our monthly Zazenkai, just to be respectful of tradition at such times.

              Gassho, J


              • Kyonin
                Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                • Oct 2010
                • 6742

                Re: Under-robes

                This is my zazen out fit:

                Just kidding. Most of the year here we get a nice constant temperature of 86°F, so I wear shots about 10 months.

                I have this basketball shorts that are loose and huge and I find them particularly good for sitting. Oh and a very loose T-shirt too!
                Hondō Kyōnin
                奔道 協忍


                • Hoyu
                  • Nov 2010
                  • 2020

                  Re: Under-robes

                  Jundo wrote:
                  (Perhaps our tea master, John, knows some other practical uses for such clothes?)
                  Hi All,

                  Sado(the way of tea) utilizes the folds, sleeves, and ties of the kimono for storing the many needed items for a tea gathering. All have their specific function depending on whether one is a guest or host. Let me take you through both rolls and explain the when, how, and why these are used.

                  As a guest you use the front fold(lapel) of the kimono, it's sleeves, and obi for storage.

                  Lapel: Guests who wear kimono(if not in kimono a small bag (Sukiya Bukuro) used to store the needed items) will store in the lapel a Fukusa(silk cloth), Kobukusa(small brocade cloth), Kaishi(papers for sweets), Kashi Yoji(pick used for cutting moist sweets), and Kojakeen(a small, moistened, linen cloth) used to wipe the lip of the tea bowl after drinking from it. Koicha(thick tea) only.

                  Sleeves: Sleeves are used to keep a small hand cloth to be used for drying the hands after using the Tsukubai(water basin used for ritual purification) and for storing any left over food or tea sweets. Which get wrapped in paper and then put in the sleeve or obi(women only)

                  Obi: A Sensu(folding fan) is kept tucked in the front left side of the obi. It is not used for fanning but rather symbolically. As mentioned above any leftover food can also be placed in the large "bow" in back of the obi(women only) if it would be too large and cumbersome to keep in the sleeves.

                  As a host you use the lapel of the kimono and the obi.

                  Lapel: Used similarly as guest to hold all but the Fukusa, which gets folded and tucked into the obi. Also when laying charcoal host will keep an extra large set of folded papers in the lapel which are used to set the hot kettle on.

                  Obi: as mentioned above host uses the obi to keep the Fukusa and sensu. In upper tea procedures or times of formal ceremony when Hakama(large pleated pants) are worn(men only) the Fukusa is not put into the obi but rather tucked through the ties of the Hakama.

                  So no cigarettes. However during the Edo Period, one of the many controversial additions to tea during this time, was the Tabakobon(tobacco tray) which was added for the guests to smoke. Sorry to all the smokers out there but it is only used symbolically nowadays.

                  Ho (Dharma)
                  Yu (Hot Water)