Foreigner’s Guide for Bra Shopping in Japan: How to try on Japanese Bras

Japanese bras are cute. Guys, you know what I’m talking about. Also, you should probably stop reading now, since I doubt this will interest you. Girls, you also know what I’m talking about. Every time I go to Japanese Onsen, (or sleepover) everything is always freakishly matching, very padded, and looks like something tween Barbie would wear.

Every time I pass a bra shop, I always peer in, mystified at all the colors (mostly pale pink, pale green, or white, with an amazing amount of lace) and fascinated by the sheer “girliness” of it all. Eventually I decided I couldn’t leave Japan without buying a “famous” Japanese bra, so I set out to go bra shopping.

The "Top Three" popular bras (for the month) - bra recommendations in the fitting room

The “Top Three” popular bras (for the month) – bra recommendations in the fitting room

So if you want to go bra shopping in Japan (but are terrified of the prospect), here is my step by step guide for trying on a bra in Japan:

1. Measure yourself online

Naturally, American and Japanese bras are different sizes. Asian women are typically “less endowed” than white or black women; Japanese women are often also a great deal skinnier (which means smaller boobs).

To check your Japanese bra size, click here.

I went from a 32B to a 70D. I’m a D cup in Japan. That’s awesome.

2. Find a bra shop

Bra shops are everywhere. They are these tiny little botiques that look like the Sugarplum fairies house from the game Candy Land. If you want, use GoogleMaps to find a bra shop. Or, you could just go to basically any shopping mall or shopping district – there are bound to be bra shops.

Bra Shopping in Japan, trying on Japanese bras

3. Bring a friend

In both the bra shops we went to, a majority of the patrons were couples. For some reason no one thought it was weird or embarrassing to bring a boyfriend bra shopping in Japan. None of the men (or women) looked uncomfortable – at all. We only saw one (older) woman shopping alone and one group of three girls shopping together.

4. Find a bra that doesn’t freak you out

Japanese style is very chic – but it is also very “effeminate.” With multiple layers of lace, fluff, opaque tights, and ribbons, fashion in Japan is far too “girly” for me. Bras are no exception. Because of the extensive ribbon and lace, most bras end up looking bumpy under the shirt (hence the multiple layers).

In the first shop I couldn’t find anything that was my color (not pink or pale green/baby blue) or style (no lace, no ribbon, not “bumpy” or over the top). The second shops Tutuanna (a socks, tights, and bra shop), had a couple styles I liked.

5. Go to the Fitting Room

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to try the bras on (I didn’t quite trust the online converter). My fears were unfounded. The fitting room had two rooms and three attendants. All the attendants were wearing short, white gloves, a black shirt, and blue jeans – giving off the vague “butler” style. One poor boyfriend was awkwardly waiting outside (playing on his phone) while his girlfriend (or sister, friend, etc) was trying bras on.

As soon as one of the attendants saw me waiting, she ushered me into one of the fitting rooms – taking my purchases away to “fix” them for me. The fitting room was poorly lit with soft, yellow light. It had three heavy maroon curtains (two drawing from right to left, one drawing from left to right) to make sure I was completely protected. After unclipping the bras from their matching underwear sets (I couldn’t find any “single” bras), a single white glove passed through the curtain.

By the way, don’t forget to take your shoes off before you enter the fitting room. For more Tips for Trying on Clothes in Japan, check out this article.

6. Laugh at the step-by-step trying on a bra guide

One of the first things I noticed in the fitting room was this poster:

In case you somehow don't understand how to wear a bra

In case you somehow don’t understand how to wear a bra

The attendant asked if I needed help trying on the bras. I was like “no…?” and sent her away (I’m pretty sure everyone knows how to put a bra on, right?). But just in case I was lost, they had a nice step-by-step guide that incorporated how padded Japanese bras are.

7. Try on the bra

It was cute. I liked it. Even though I picked some of the “less” padded bras, it was still the most padding I have ever seen in a bra. Ever. My boobs looked great.

8. Marvel at the amount of padding

Seriously. I can’t believe how much was in there.

Bra Shopping in Japan, trying on Japanese brasBecause regular padding wasn’t enough, they had additional “lose” inserts. The bra is 90% padding. Or more.

9. Refuse help from attendants

About halfway through, one of the attendants asked if I needed help. I turned her away. She came back two minutes later and asked again. I turned her away.

10. Wait for the attendant to finish re-attaching the matching bra and underwear set

We had to hang around the shop for an extra five minutes while the attendant re-attached the matching bra and underwear sets. She gave me a little Tutuanna bra bag (opaque bag to keep my bras in while shopping, just in case I got embarrassed). The poor boyfriend from earlier was still waiting for his girlfriend; two attendants were inside her fitting room (I could tell by the shoes and voices), helping her try on bras.

12. Pay and leave

Japanese bras are expensive, but not too expensive. Bras typically run around the $10 – $30 (1,000 – 3,000 yen).

13. Repeat as necessary. Also, tell all your friends about how cool/weird trying on clothes in Japan can be.

In case you couldn't see earlier, the instructions on the wall of the fitting room taught you how to "pull" your boobs out of the bra, to achieve the correct "effect."  Awkward.  So awkward.

In case you couldn’t see earlier, the instructions on the wall of the fitting room taught you how to “pull” your boobs out of the bra, to achieve the correct “pushup effect.”
Awkward.
So awkward.

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

49 Comments on Foreigner’s Guide for Bra Shopping in Japan: How to try on Japanese Bras

  1. 10 to 30 bucks that is cheape XD I have to spend 50 to 100 on my bras due to my cupsize an tiny rib cage (custom bras) . This makes me want to hit up Japan for bras :3

    • Anonymous // 25 April, 2016 at 1:08 am //

      I feel you. I am a 30 DDD in america. Unfortunately I doubt that the cheap bras will apply since I doubt i will find a G cup in a store there.

  2. Haha, it’s probably a good thing you didn’t ask for help too. Some places the shopkeeper will try to do that last push-up step FOR you. Let’s talk about awkward!! Great article!

  3. Must be nice to have small boobs. Can’t find my size anywhere in this country.

  4. Haha I would be a 70H

  5. Thisis a fun topic :)

    You should have asked a staff to measure your size! I’m Japanese and I thought mine was B70 for a long time but actually D65 or E70. Still,my breasts doesn’t look big, though.
    If you don’t like too girly one, why don’t go to rakuten site? If you search bras there, you can find many nice and reasonable bras.

  6. I am a 36I, i would probably never find one in Japan. I am Big-boobed for Danish standards!

  7. Hello!

    Nice article. While I was writing my piece on how to find bras in Japan, I found this while searching for a Japan blogger who wrote something similar. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that bras in Japan are too lacy and feminine. I had a hard time finding a plain white bra!

  8. I work at a Victoria’s Secret here in the US and that’s not really all that strange. In the fitting rooms we ask people if they need help and to let us see and measure them all the time. You’d be surprised the amount of women that DON’T know their size even if they “think” they know. I had a woman come in saying she was a 34A and it was obvious even through her shirt that her bra was waaaay to small. It was so tight on her I couldn’t even get a proper measurement and she wound up being a DD.

    • I’ve heard a couple statistics about women who wear the wrong bra sizes. I measure myself every year at home and mostly stay the same size.

      The first time I got measured was when we lived in Ghana (when I hit the age I actually had to start wearing bras) – and I was sized wrong. And wore the wrong size for like 2 years. Oops.

  9. Japanese bra shops look like candy stores :D I love to look at them, I bought a bra there the first time I came to Japan, but I havent used it once X/ What surprised me most about trying on clothes, not just bras, in Japan are the paper sheets? to cover your face while trying on things, so that you dont get make up on the clothes. Im from Europe and havent seen anything like that before ocming to Japan. I dont think that japanese women generally use more makeup than europeans, but maybe if man-ga-ichi a gyaru came in the shop :)

    • Right? Those sheets kind of surprised me too…

      While it looks like most Japanese women don’t wear makeup – nearly every girl I know wears copious amounts of foundation/blush/primer/etc on their cheeks, to cover up blemishes/flaws. That’s what shopkeepers are worried about.

  10. What surprises me the most isn´t the procedure but the fact that apparently bra sizes in the EU are identical with Japan BUT that there´s a big difference to US and UK. That doesn´t even make sense. xD So concluding I´d have no trouble finding a bra in Japan but in the US I´d be super confused.

    About the “padding issue” – that´s not just japan. Depending on where you shop you´d have the same problem in Germany. There is just so much passing everywhere. As long as it´s loose and you can just pull it out it´s fine but the ones that are sewn in are such a pain. It´s getting harder these days to find a nice bra that fits well and has no padding.

    • Huh, really? I had no idea.

      As for padding… in general, I don’t enjoy over padding because it’s not comfortable (and, you know, I’m married now, so I don’t have to peacock/impress anyone).
      I love that most of the padding is removable in Japan – but I do wish it was more comfortable.

  11. Ha! I would be an 80H. Do even have those in Japan?

  12. I’ve never actually bought a bra in Japan but they are cute here – very polyester and padded, but cute. $10 to $30 each is so cheap!

  13. mockingbird // 21 June, 2014 at 10:18 pm //

    70D, didn’t even have to measure! I think even with your tips, I’d still be intimidated. Even reading about the changing rooms made me nervous. I have a hard enough time in changing rooms and bra shops in America as is. I’ll just make sure to stock up(even though I’m notorious for not really wearing a bra). Oh! That reminds me – is it rare to see women going bra less in Japan? Probably a silly question, considering that they are so conservative about cleavage, etc. I guess what I’m asking is – Can I(a foreigner) get away with it or is it best to just conform? I wouldn’t go bra less on the job so I’m just referring to everyday life being out and about.

    • I’ve never seen a woman go bra-less… sorry.
      Even just going to the store, it’s rare to see someone sloppy dressed in sweatpants. You’re probably going to have to (at LEAST) wear a sports bra. It’s horrible in the summer…

  14. The thing I love most about this post is I was seriously wondering about it! Hahaha now I know. 70E That’s hilarious, I’m massive! I wonder, is there specialty shops if your size is too big? I actually bought some bras before I leave Canada just in case. xD Haha

    • It’s kind of flattering how “large” my size in Japan is. You’re HUGE, though! I actually don’t know if you can find any your size~ So it’s a good thing you’re bringing some from Canada (still, it would be fun to try in Japan)

      • Haha oh my goodness I’m just finding out now that I can actually see all the comments you’ve replied to on wordpress. (I still don’t know how to use this xD)

        Anyways that comment made me laugh so hard. I brought plenty so I should be okay but maybe I should go shopping just for fun. xD

    • Anonymous // 17 June, 2015 at 9:39 pm //

      Hey, I’m 70E and actually find it a lot easier to find my size here than in the US. I can always find my size in most styles. The bras are much cheaper with a lot more embellishments and life-extending options. For example: most bras have replaceable straps and removable padding so if a strap breaks or the elastic wears down you can replace it. Same with the padding: if it becomes less fluffy over time you can replace it without damaging the bra or if you want more lift you can get higher quality silicone inserts, bigger pads, no pad. Gotta love Japan! It’s very convenient.

  15. Haha this is hilarious! I went to Japan last year and when I went to try dresses in the fitting room I was surprised about the fact that they had these “face cover sheets” so that you wouldn’t stain the clothes with make up. Kinda silly but I can see the reasoning! Haven’t been brave enough to try stuff in a bra shop but I got lucky with my size guessing and managed to order a bunch online and for the most part most of them fit XD

  16. Good blog! Funny, I was just telling my husband about this. Yes, I had an attendant multiple times try to come in and “help” me. What is with that? It sounds like a start to a low-budget sex movie… Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • I know, right? I thought I was being “punk’d” by a Japanese TV show or something. Like no, I don’t want you to come up and measure my boobs and stuff. I know my size. And, like, I don’t want some stranger in the dressing room.

  17. Anonymous // 15 April, 2014 at 7:34 am //

    Hi, I was wondering if there any websites I can go on to buy the bras and get them to ship to the USA. Thank you

  18. I’m a little confused. OP said she is a 32B which was a 70D in Japan, BUT the calculator you provided says you would be a 70C. You were a cup size bigger than the calculator says you should be. Same with Krissi. She said she is a 34C but had to buy a 75E. The calculator says she should be a 75D. SO which should I buy? I am so confused. Is the calculator off by a cup size?

    • The calculator isn’t perfect (I think). I tried on 70D, 70C, and 70B just to be safe, and the 70D happened to fit the best. It might depend on the brand? I wasn’t in a pricey shop – the cotton of the bras was very firm and somewhat uncomfortable, so it felt better going one size up (and really, who needs THAT much pushup?).

      I think it’s best to try on a couple different sizes, just to be safe :)

  19. While it is true that there is no such thing as an “E cup”, both 28E and 34E look a bit smaller than average on most people’s frames. Here are some correctly fitted E cups (DD in UK sizing)
    http://www.brabandproject.com/gallery/search?band=&cup=DD&age=&brand=&sister_sizes=0&search=Search

    Lingerie stores in most countries find your size by adding 4 inches (or 10 cm) to your rib cage, which results in a band size that is 2 sizes too big, and a cup size that is FOUR sizes too small.

    For example, with my measurements of a 30″ underbust and 38″ bust, the “standard” measuring system would put me in a 34D, but I am currently wearing a 30FF UK bra or a 65H European. (There aren’t any American brands that make my size, but if they did, it would be 30H).

    Japanese bras come up to a J cup, which is GG European. http://www.ruiglamourous.jp/

  20. Do they actual have bras for people who are real big chest( i am like DD) i have heard that it is real difficult to find bras that big.

    • I don’t think so…
      I’ve heard you CAN buy bras for something larger than an “American” C cup in Japan, but haven’t seen them in any mainstream shops. So I think most people who are larger than size C (or even size C) just buy their bras online.

  21. A D cup in the U.S. is not big. There is a website (forgot what it was) that shows what different D cup breasts look like and a 28D is what would be considered somewhat small breasts. Cup sizes do not determine whether someone has large or small breasts–that’s a fallacy. It’s a combination of the cup and band size. In fact, a B cup is rarer than a D cup. Most women in the U.S. are wearing the wrong bra size–way too big bands and much too small cups. Someone who thinks they are a 32 or 34 B or C could very well be a 30 DD (or something like that). Please check out this tutorial on how to measure correctly for a bra and thank me later!!! ;) http://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/wiki/fit_guide

    • Interesting. According to the guide, I’m more of an A cup than a B cup (which may be true). I feel like there are so many Myths around bra sizes.

      I’m going to share your guide with some of my friends, thanks!

  22. I just bough a bra in Tokyo. Normally a 34 c in the us but had to buy a 75 e. the sales girl was really helpful and picked out the right size for me.

  23. Damn… Apparently I’m a D cup in Japan. I thought I escaped the dredded D-cup in highschool, but I guess not. #bigboobiesinasia

  24. Actually, that image is sort of the scoop and swoop method which is good way to make sure you aren’t getting the wrong size band and cup and side spill out which can cause tissue migration.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/bigboobproblems/comments/ye9rj/a_bbp_psa_armpit_back_rolls_migrated_breast/

    I hit upon this post as I’m Asian and figured I should pick up some bras when traveling there, but remembered the padding issue. Bras don’t need to stand by themselves!

    • Interesting. I had no idea.

      I ended up finding a nice “no padding” bra (which was really just lightly padded) that worked well enough, but I completely agree with you on the “bras don’t need to stand by themselves” point. \
      After reading the reddit thread, I’m terrified about boob fat on my back. That sound so painful.

  25. Oh wow.. Thank you for the answer.. :) That is great to hear :)

  26. What’s about bigger size? I have european size (I read the european size equals the japanese size) 75E (which is actually not so big).. I wouldn’t find any bra in size size or?
    Ah.. And these bras are cheap! When I want to buy a bra, I have to pay 30-60€.. it’s 40-80$..

    • Yeah, the bras were a lot cheaper than I expected (mostly because Tokyo fashion is usually pretty expensive).
      I think you could find bras in your size – the store I went to had a couple “E” cups. I think anything higher than “E” has you out of luck, though (I have G cup friends who have to shop at old lady bra shops because that’s the only thing that has their size).
      Also the largest bra by CM i could find was a 75 – so you’re really on the edge. Lucky you!

      • 75E isn’t so big? It’s huge! I have also a 70E/F in EU and it’s way too much. Most of the clothes don’t fit. >__<

        But it's good to hear, that it's not impossible to find a bra in Japan, even for me (In Germany you can't find that size much, too and if you find one, it's ugly and so expensive!) And that's so cheap :D

        • I think rib cage wise 75E is pretty normal – maybe a bit above average. E cup (in the EU) is HUGE though! I don’t know if you can find something like that in Japan…?

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