The History of Bras in Japan and the Struggles of Buying Larger Bras in the Land of Hentai

To celebrate Japan’s “Day of the Bra” (#ブラジャーの日), we’re holding a “Lingerie Sale” until Feb 16th! Over 50 titles on sale with up to 80% OFF! Check out the sale here!

 

Big Tiddy Japanese Characters Will Struggle to Buy Bras in Japan?

When I was in college, I spent my third year in Japan at a Japanese university. I worked really hard to get there, and I was so happy to finally go back again (at this point I’d been going back and forth for a few years) for a longer stay. I was also the first afab person in my class to develop secondary sex characteristics. It didn’t help that I had huge tits for my age by early middle school, something I both loved and hated (but mostly hated).

There have been reports from foreigners and Japanese women who have large breasts with nowhere else to turn with regard to bra buying. That was my reality too during my years in Japan. 

It was maddening. My bra size at the time was also starting to increase due to hormone issues as I had recently been put on a birth control patch, and I remember looking frantically in many stores, then calling my mom crying in frustration because I just couldn’t find my size multiple times in the beginning of my exchange year that July to September.

(Where do these ladies buy their underwear in Japan? : Twin Milf Additional Episode +1 by Tatsunami Youtoku)

What many people do not understand if they don’t have breasts is how difficult it is to manage larger ones, as the incorrect bra/corset/binder will absolutely mess up your mid to lower back/lumbar area and they do so quickly. The wrong kind of support can cause a lot of physical pain. At that time, I was already developing a chronic pain problem, so needing better bras definitely made the issue far worse. Without well-fitting bras, your posture gets messed up, your nipples aren’t protected, and your body firms up.

In the end, my mother had to send me some bras via international priority.

I was so upset about the bra thing that I eventually switched to corsets. Because those were a bit easier to find at the time, and they lasted longer on the whole. To this day, I prefer compression support, which you can get from corsets, binders, and layered sports bras.

(No Regrets by Harumare)

Why am I sharing this with you?

Japan is known for its many “___ day” events which you might have seen on Twitter, and bras are no exception. February 12th is ブラジャーの日, or “The Day of the Bra”. 

But why is it known as such?

Let’s get into it!


Wacoal, Japan’s First Bra Company

Before we can properly talk about Wacoal, there’s something else we need to look at first. 

On February 12, 1913, Mary Phelps Jacob, an American, invented the original prototype for the modern bra. The prototype was two silk scarves and pink ribbon, fashioned with the help of her maid. On February 14, 1914, she patented the design. Eventually she named it the “backless brassiere”, borrowing the French term for the “upper arm”. This was hailed by women as something great, because in comparison to whalebone corsets at the time, there were no bones to stick out and mess up an outfit with the backless bra.

(Horny Wife, Infertile Husband by Neginegio)

Wacoal Is Born

So how did the bra come to Japan? The bra was gradually introduced, via foreigners, from the early 1910s ~ 1920s. At that time, they were called 乳房ホルダー (breast holders), and sold primarily through pharmacies as hygienic products for women.

Wacoal was established by Koichi Tsukamoto on November 1, 1949 in Kyoto. They patented the anniversary of the bra itself on the day it was first introduced in 1913. They are Japan’s first and leading domestic lingerie company, still making bras to this day. In 1964, they created a research and development department, the Human Science Research Center. It mostly focused on women’s health and bodies for the sake of product R&D.

(Electric Footsie Mandagi-san’s Sister by Haiba Nemumi)

There and Back Again: The Bra Comes Home

In the 1970s, Tsukamoto set his sights on another market: America.

The devil may work hard, but Tsukamoto worked even harder with his ambitions to sell bras in America. As a part of the company’s ten year plan that they devised at the start of each new decade, the 1980s would be the decade for Wacoal to launch in the US.

In 1984, Wacoal launched its American division, and in that sense, there was a homecoming for the bra. However, it was far more expensive than domestic American bras. Anticipating this, they sent company reps to department stores across the country to educate potential customers on why a good fit was very important, and why their product was worth the extra cost. By 2005, Wacoal was the best-selling bra in America, even overtaking other domestic American brands by quite a lead in sales.

(These underwear(?) are surprisingly easy to come across in Japan. : Welcome to Mega-Slut Soapland by Chin)

Around the same time, they also established other subsidiaries in different countries, first with Thailand, then South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and the Philippines. In the 1990s, Wacoal expanded to Canada, Europe, and Western Asia. In 1990, the popular designer Carlos Falchi, a famous designer of bags and belts, landed in Japan. He signed a licensing agreement with Wacoal, and the collaboration between the two skyrocketed Wacoal’s popularity. From then on, Wacoal became a dominant regular in Isetan, Seibu, Takashimaya, Daimaru, and Mitsukoshi, some of the most popular Japanese department stores.

(An Older Wife’s Supple Cage by Akari Blast!)

Bra Day in the 21st Century: Now What?

Now, like many other Japanese anniversary days, many artists like to draw their own characters wearing bras and upload them to social media. In recent years, there has been an upswing in male characters and femboys wearing them. It seems more BL illustrators are drawing more of both of these types of content as of late.

(A cute barely-there bra for the femboys! : I Wanna Be Lovey Dovey With My Cross-Dressing Boss by YK)

Either way, bras and other lingerie can be fun regardless of gender, and there seems to be a rising understanding of this in doujin circles.

Here are a few drawings from a few Irodori artists today!

Inato Serere

Cup Chan

Uten Ameka

 


Click here for more interesting articles about sex in Japan.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.