Finding Proper Fitting Bras in Japan
A to J Cups And Everything In Between
Whether you’re an Audrey type or more of a Marilyn, it’s still possible to find the right bra for you in Japan, so don't give up searching!
Let me take a brief break from dating to talk about a very important topic that many foreign women in Japan have difficulties sorting out: bras. Regardless of what size you wear, you are bound to run into some issues with how the sizing works, where you can find your size and how these necessities are priced.
When I came to Japan 10 years ago, I was very naive to think that all shops would carry the standard range of cup and band sizes, the North American A-to-D and their variations. Long story short — I was very wrong.
When the underwire in one of the bras I’d brought with me from Canada went AWOL, I naively thought that finding a replacement in Japan would be “easy enough.” I walked into my local department store only to find that, while indeed the sizes came in A to D, the alleged D cup bra fit less than half of my actual chest. The shop staff heard my incredulous foreign sobbing from the change room and politely informed me in her limited English: “No, no. Japan small. You. No.”
I walked into my local supermarket/department store only to find that, while indeed the sizes came in A to D, the alleged D cup bra fit less than half of my actual chest.
Getting The Right Size
Japanese bra sizes on average are smaller than those available overseas. According to Triumph International Japan’s Lingerie White Paper, the majority of Japanese women fall within the B to D cup range, with a Japanese C essentially being a North American B. From what I’ve learned visiting bra shops here, to find your basic Japanese bra size simply add two cup sizes to whatever your North American size is and convert the band size from inches to the nearest centimeter. Or you can use an online converter. But this may not be your actual size, as every store and style has its own slight variations, so I strongly recommend getting a fitting done before making any purchases — or ask the store staff to measure you.
To find your basic Japanese bra size simply add two cup sizes to whatever your North American size is and convert the band size from inches to the nearest centimeter.
Bra Stores In Japan
Here comes the hard part. You have a rough idea of what size to look for, but where should you go? Here are my own picks.
Found in trendy shopping areas like Shibuya 109, Peach John carries bras in a variety of colors, sizes and styles, usually in matched pairs with (sometimes tiny!) underwear. Its sizes run from an A to E cup, although the larger you go, the variety and color choices decrease drastically. Their online shop does technically carry up to a G cup, however the band size seems to tap out at 80 cm. While I have never had any success in this shop, I know a few women that swear by this brand and won’t wear anything else. The prices tend to run a bit higher here, with most bras (without matching panties) landing in the ¥3,400-¥4,500 range, but if you don’t mind wearing last season’s patterns, their winter and summer sales are great events to check out.
Also considered a “fashion” bra store, Aimer Feel tends to be located in youth-oriented shopping centers more than family-based ones. This shop sells the majority of its bras in sets, carries extra straps, expanders (for the band), cute room wear and even garter belts. The sizes available in store run from an A to E, with a separate and smaller selection of bras (8-15 options) that come in F, G and H cups, with the largest size available being an H80. One of the nicest points though, is that all the bras come in cute, sexy or fun patterns — no plain bras for bigger girls or uncomfortably childlike prints for smaller ones. Prices at Aimer Feel are very reasonable, with most of the bras costing around ¥2,000-¥4,000, and they often have great sales, too (a friend of mine once walked out of this shop with 8 bra-and-panty sets in her size for ¥5,600.)
Amos Style is a Japan-specific shop under the Triumph International brand and can be found in more family-friendly shoppings centers across Japan — specifically in Aeon Malls. Running from an A to a G cup, the band size here taps out at about an 85, although the number of styles and available bras in their largest sizes varies greatly by store. If this isn’t a bra emergency, then some stores will offer to order one in for you, but you may have better luck doing so yourself on their online shop. The styles offered here tend to be a bit more demure, with plenty of lace patterns and floral prints to choose from, and there are more cup styles as well when compared to the youth-centric shops. You can also get some pretty fabulous T-shirt bras here too. Prices range widely; sale items go for around ¥1,600 yen, while their larger sizes can cost anywhere from ¥4,500 to ¥7,000 yen or even a bit higher. They do fittings, and there are some friendly English-speaking staff in their shops as well.
Brands in Department Stores
As many will have noticed, there are major differences between department stores in Japan. At the more high-end level, (think Isetan and Mitsukoshi) you will find Triumph and Wacoal brand shops, usually on the plus size or business fashion floors. Triumph tends to have a few styles in store, more geared towards older women and with more foundation garment options than bras, per se, but they do carry A to H80 cups in much more muted patterns and colors than Amos Style. The prices in the Triumph stores, however, tend to be a bit on the higher end of the scale — prices range from ¥3,400 to ¥18,000.
Wacoal, on the other hand, has several sub-brands to it: Wing, Acute and Amphi being just three of them. Amphi are sexier styles, come in A-G80 cups (with G only having eight styles to choose from), and cost from ¥2,500-¥5,000. Acute are cuter, more delicately feminine styles, come in A-H80 cups (only three styles to chose from in the larger end) and run about ¥2,000-¥4,000, with prices depending on size. Wing has the most variety when it comes to style and sometimes even carries the other brands in shop as well: its bras come in A-F85 cups, (three styles to choose from in the largest size), and cost from ¥3,000-¥5,000 each.
Supermarket chain-related department stores, like Ito Yokado, Sogo and so on, do have their own clothing departments in their larger locations. Bras in these shops tend to come in A to G cups, sometimes as high as a 90 cm band width, and range in price from ¥1,500-¥8,000, depending on size and style. The selection, however, is very limited; they may only come in beige, white or black for some styles and are, as one of my friends says, “Very granny friendly.” If you are in a bra-related emergency and aren’t too fussed about what it looks like so long as it keeps them in place, then these stores are your best and fastest option.
Plus-size Bra Shopping
For plus-size women, who may convert their bra size and discover that they are an H,I, or even J cup, then things will be a bit more difficult for you I’m afraid. Other than ordering bras online from overseas brands or asking for those exclusively for Christmas and birthdays, you do have two major options in Japan: Smileland and Rui Glamorous.
Smileland is a plus-size store, run by the catalog shop Nissen, and comes up to a 10L (8XL North American) for women. Their web shop is very useful, but if you want to try on before you buy, they do have some physical shops as well, mostly in Ito Yokado department stores across Japan. Their bras come in a wide variety of styles and colors, from plain to downright racy, and, in their online shop, sizes from an A80 to I100 are available, again depending on the style. Prices here are the cheapest you will ever find — most bra-and-panty sets cost just under ¥3,000, so this is also an incredible bargain.
Rui Glamorous is an online-only shop dedicated to ‘glamor-size’ women — think Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell or even Mae West. Bras here — starting at an F65 and going up to a J90 — come in cute, sexy, neutral or even scandalous styles. The prices are amazing, too: from ¥1,100 yen up to ¥5,000, with the majority of items coming in around the ¥2,300 price range. They also carry business shirts and jackets that are guaranteed not to gap or bulge awkwardly. I actually wore one of their shirts to death because it was so comfortable and didn’t leave me safety-pinning my top closed. You can also get your selections shipped to your house and pay cash on delivery, as well as return the items that don’t work for you through delivery service. The only downside to this site is that it is all in Japanese, so if you aren’t confident in your language abilities, you might need to get some help when shopping here.
If you do need help finding the right bra for you, and want to make some new friends, you can always drop me a line here — I love shopping!