Sarashi is white, long cloth (34cm in width, 2 to 10m in length), and it is usually used by wrapping around the stomach. Its material is usually cotton, but some are made of hemp thread as well.
It is used as underwear in the Edo period. For samurai, in case they are cut on abdomen by a sword, it had a role to prevent internal organs from spilling out.
As clothes, with its greatly porous material, it is usually used in the summertime.
Recently, at festivals, it is worn under a hanten or a happi (a short coat originally for craftsmen worn over a kimono), and some males use it as loincloth. And some female oen-danin (cheer leaders of classic style) use it under gakuran (a male student's uniform coat with a stand-up collar) to cover the chest.
In the old days, for the shortage of gauze, torn sarashi had been used as a substitute for bandage. The vestige of the custom still remains on some brands of bandage.
Some pregnant women use sarashi (called 'oharaobi'in this case) hoping easy delivery. Sarashi is also said to be effective for preventing the flatulence, however, there is no medical proof. Wrapping sarashi is Japanese original custom, and there is no similar custom in Europe nor America, nor in East Asia. Recently new type of oharaobi made of other materials or in the shape of girdle have been developed; however, sarashi still remains as a deep-rooted custom, being handed out in shrines and used for prayers and being always available in baby's goods stores.
Sarashi is also used as a material. It is sewed up and used as diaper or duster. Some people put a few such dusters together and sew it with small stitches to make a kazarifukin (decorative cloth). In these past few years, it had been used as a material for baby's underwear, however, at present it is replaced with gauge or tenjiku-cotton. Hada-juban (an undershirt with tie strings worn beneath kimono), which women put on under juban (an undershirt for kimono) when wearing kimono, is made of sewed sarashi as well.