Women who live in Japan long term are eventually going to find themselves with the need to purchase a new bra. . . . that’s just life. Unfortunately the task of finding a bra can be challenging enough when you’re in your home country let alone when in a foreign land where women are (there’s no better way to say this so here goes) much smaller and not as voluptuous.
In the face of such challenges most foreigners toss in the towel right away holding on to every last frayed inch of spandex and lace until they can order online or go back to the US. On the other hand, I don’t have the extra money for shipping and with no plans to go back to the US any time soon my bazookas and I went out into the battle field. Our mission? Find the equivalent of a 36DD and share every grueling detail of my experience.
The first thing that needs to be discussed (because it is usually the first thing on people’s minds) is sizing. The system for sizing bras in Japan is very similar to the US. There is a number which corresponds to the under band and then a letter which corresponds to the cup size. Because we use the metric system in Japan the under band is measured in centimeters. Generally speaking under bands are in 5cm increments. Cup size is also a bit different then in the US with sizes ranging from A to H without the use of double letters. (Note: Most stores I have visited only carry about A to E. . . maybe F) Cup sizes also run a bit smaller then they do in the US. For example I am a DD which one might immediately assume is an E in Japanese sizes, however, it is actually an F. Also under band sizes correspond to cup sizes. What this ultimately means is that you’re not likely to find a very small under band with a very large cup (i.e. 30DD or 75F)
Now that we’ve talked about sizing, which you have to admit is not as scary as you initially thought, it’s time to understand a few things about Japanese bras in general. For a country which is so modest they sure have a lot of “loud” bras here. Almost every bra that I saw had some type of lace, gems, pattern or ruffle on it. For some I can imagine that this would be problematic, in fact I am not often a fan of these bras which can sometimes leave your melons looking. . . . well lumpy. Of course there are other bras which are made of smooth materials which make them seem “barely there” but they are much more expensive and come in limited sizes.
Aside from the materials used to decorate the bras (which is relatively easy to work with) the biggest challenge that I faced finding a bra was that almost half of the bras available have some sort of padding. If you’re like me and have some bodacious bongos the last think you need is extra “va-va” in your “voom”. Unlike pushup bras that you might find at Victorias Secret or similar this padding offered more fill then shape leaving an awkward look. In fact I would go so far as to say that although the size was still 80F it was probably designed for someone with a smaller cup size but wanting to look like an F.
Even after finding out what size I was, shuffling through the overly appliquéd designs and weeding out anything that could be described as “stuffed” I made a discovery that every woman knows but none ever really want to admit: it doesn’t matter what you think you know . . . you’re going to have to try on every damn bra anyway! I do not know what mysterious force of nature it is that can make 5 bras, all the same size, fit 5 very different ways. Some were simply too big where as others seemed to be two sizes too small and of course there was that one that fit just right. As much of a pain in the pantyhose as this was it’s something I’ve done all my life when trying to find a bra so I suppose I shouldn’t expect bra shopping in Japan to be any different.
Having found a bra that fit for the low low price of ¥1000 I happily walked over the the check out counter where I was rung up and my new over the shoulder boulder holder was put into a brown paper bag so that no wandering eyes could get a peek. This is one of the really great things that Japan does for items which are on the “personal” side. Although it took a little bit of time and effort in actuality this was a really simple task and the effort paid off with a bra that was at least $30.00 (not counting shipping) cheaper then I would have ordered online. You can’t beat a deal like that! If you’re here in Japan and need a new bra don’t hesitate to check out your local department store or specialty shop. You never know what you might find!