What to Wear in the Zendo

In order to support ease of sitting and reduce distraction for the group, it’s customary to wear loose comfortable clothing in subdued colors. Keep dress comfortable but modest, avoiding, for example, large images, printed words on shirts and strong scents. Whenever possible, allow the feet to be bare and heads hatless in order to open up all your senses to your surroundings. We appreciate your respect for our tradition and look forward to joining together in practice. 

Traditional Zen Garments

If you have any questions about these, please feel free to ask. Those wearing rakusu are available for guidance.


The wagesa is a thin strip of cloth connected by an eternal knot. Those who have received Buddhist precepts are given these after they have undergone a ceremony called Jukai.  

The wagesa is a helpful reminder of one’s vows and the value of practice. These, in addition to the rakusu, are treated with great respect and placed upon the head during the Robe Verse that is often chanted before zazen.


The rakusu, a bib-like garment with a ring, is a small version of the Buddha’s robe. These hand-sewn garments were originally made, at the time of the Buddha, from discarded garments. The pattern represents a fertile rice field. Those with rakusus at EFZW have taken additional vows to care for the sangha, commit to a formal relationship with the teacher and uphold the Dharma Cloud lineage.

Rakusu colors signify different relationships and roles in training. Green, a symbol of newness and connection to the earth, is worn by formal students in our particular sangha. In the wider lineage, blue is used for transmitted lay teachers while brown and gold are reserved for transmitted priests.


Samue are traditional Japanese work clothes that have become common in Western sanghas as general meditation clothing. They fit nicely over work clothes that helps signify a transition to the zendo space.

Everyone is welcome to wear samue — they are easy to sew and act as a reminder of the importance of your practice.