A rainbow of choices
Let's talk about something really trivial now:
What colour should the embroidery of my belt be?
First, let's start with the most common one: golden brown (金茶, in Japanese):
This is a belt that was gifted to me so the content of the embroidery is kind of unusual but the picture will show the colour I am talking about.
Beautiful and classic, right?
So, what other colours are acceptable?
By far, the two next more common colours are red and white:
(red one is mine too)
All the other colours have really few adepts but I have seen a blue one, a green one and a pink one:
(it is pinker in person)
You also can choose a metallic gold or silver threat:
Considering getting a silver one soon... if not pink!
And you can choose to get kanji and/or katakana (or hiragana) embroidered, but also common letters:
Or you can just go crazy and get a multicolour multifont belt, like this one:
And what about rank stripes?
I have been part of dojos where stripes where banned, then part of dojos where stripes were mandatory and the part of dojos where stripes where optional. I even visited dojos where stripes were meant to signify sogo titles.
And don't forget that you can find different materials for the belt (cotton, satin, silk), that you can choose a long hanging or a short hanging belt and that they come in different thicknesses (3 mm, 4 mm, 5mm...) and widths (4 cm, 4'5 cm, 5 cm...) so you can customize it to your needs. Most companies also offer different organizations labels.
You can't go wrong with any of the Japanese brands. Their belts are different, but all of the highest quality: Shureido, Tokaido, Hirota, Tokyodo, Mitsuboshi, Seido, Kusakura, Tozando, Isami, Mizuno...
So, what do I recommend?
Nothing. No, seriously, you must find what works for you. Try different belts and decide what you like. Then, ask your Sensei if what you like is allowed in your dojo and then go for it.
Then, send me a picture of it!
I want to thank Sensei Riccardo Rita (visit his blog here) for allowing me to post a picture of his Hirota silk belt:
I am adding some pictures of my Shureido belts too, the old one is satin covered and five years old, the new one is cotton covered and completely new. You can see how worn one is after these years of practice and also how both material compare to each other. Both are 4'5 cm wide.
Even tough the cotton one looks blacker in the photos the satin one looks blacker in person. It reflected more light when I took the pics, but it is completely black. The cotton one looks like black cotton, not as black.
I need to add that it took almost four years to have a tight knot on the satin one but I got a good knot immediately on the cotton one.
Here is where I bought my first black belt: