iroha: Breaking the Taboo and Celebrating Women

iroha was created by women back in March of 2013; to help more women in Japan feel good about themselves, explore the different aspects of self-care, and start a new chapter for self-pleasure. Since then, it has been 9 years, and the brand has been continuously expanding to help bring more light to the topic of masturbation. In Japan, iroha has been one of the leading sources of highlighting the subject of female masturbation and creating an environment where women can enjoy and speak freely about masturbation.  

March 3rd marks iroha's 9th anniversary from launch, and with International Women's Day (IWD) around the corner we wanted to take this chance to celebrate our birthday, IWD, and the progress women around the world have made, while also taking some time to look at the topic of self-pleasure for women from the perspective of the Japanese team of women who started it. What Japan was like at the time, why they launched the brand, and in what ways iroha is making changes to the landscape of pleasure for women in Japan.

 Keep on reading to find out more!

iroha’s Mission and Concept

iroha’s mission is simple, to redefine self-pleasure.  We believe sexuality and the pleasure around it are things that people should be able to enjoy just as naturally as other human joys, such as good food, good sleep, good skin, and good company. Likewise, the iroha brand sees self-pleasure as a form of self-care; getting to know your body and what it likes, and being able to enjoy that pleasure without fear or embarrassment. Similar to the notion of putting on a face mask, whether it is your regular self-care routine or a special, once-in-while treat - if doing so makes you feel better, then why not?  

Each iroha product is designed to allow the user to feel comfortable owning it by creating designs that are not lewd or offensive, inspired by elements of Japanese culture and are easy to use for both beginners and those more familiar with self-pleasure products.  


Masturbation and Self Pleasure for Women in Japan

The topics of sexuality and masturbation for men in Japan are generally more open and much more normalized than for women. At the time before iroha launched, women that discuss the topic of sex or masturbation, are considered impolite and the individual could be labeled as overly sexual - leading to many women uncomfortable talking about both sex and masturbation in general. 

iroha hopes to break this stereotype against the conversations about masturbation for women in Japan and let more women be open to explore and feel good about themselves. As we all know, no matter your gender, race or ethnicity, pleasure and masturbation are things that many people want to enjoy.

We interviewed 492 women in Japan about masturbation, the original article can be found here, but since it's all in Japanese we've translated some of the findings for you in English below:

  • Out of the 60% of the women that have masturbated before, there were quite a number of them thought they were the only ones who masturbated
  • 87% have never talked about masturbation to their female friends 
  • For those that did talk to their friends about masturbation, the reactions were: 
    • 31% Very positive
    • 19% Positive
    • 46% Neither positive nor negative
    • 1% Negative
    • 3% Very negative
  • 37% of the women have used a sex toy before

As we can see above, the conversation around masturbation is still minimal, however, after this interview, many women realized they weren’t the only ones interested in masturbation. Spreading this kind of information can help bring us a step closer to allowing women to feel comfortable about the topic of masturbation and breaking the bias by normalizing the conversation. 

Breaking the Taboo with iroha

“It is embarrassing for a woman to enjoy sexual pleasure alone.”
“Women who talk about sex or act sexually is a taboo.” 

These kinds of opinions were very common from the interviews we did with our fans. We talked to the team behind iroha and asked them what they think about iroha and how they want to help break this taboo.  

“I think it is unfair to say ‘If you are a woman, you should or should not do this.’ Rather, it should be your own choice whether you want to or don’t want to have and enjoy sex or self-pleasure. I want to increase the options so that women can choose for themselves.” ~Takeuchi (iroha Product Designer)~

“I want the world to see self-pleasure as more natural than it is now. 
Personally, I was able to learn about my body and my health through self-pleasure. For example, I learned to change the amount of lubrication I use to make it more pleasurable. Self-pleasure is an act of understanding one's body, and it is self-care that should be done continuously. I would like to popularize iroha as an item for women to get to know themselves.” ~Watanabe (iroha Brand Manager and one of the founding members)~

“I think talking about self-pleasure is similar to talking about other natural body functions. It is your personal freedom to talk about it for the sake of health, at the same time it is a private matter. Whether you want to talk about it or not is up to the person. So long story short, I want to create a world where both can be freely selected.” ~Nakagawa (iroha Graphic Designer)~ 

“Self-pleasure and sex are things that if ‘people who want to do it, do it, and people who don't want to do it, don’t do it.’ Also, I don't want to be in a world where ‘people who want to do it’ feel guilty about it. We all have our own values, and I want to create an environment where people can freely choose, rather than struggling with people who have different opinions.” ~Inukai  (iroha Public Relations)~

“I also want to create a society where people who want to talk about sex are not threatened by others. I was keenly aware of the difficulty when I was a newspaper reporter, but I thought it was a very important issue. I would like to break through that barrier through public relations activities for iroha to create an environment where more people can ‘talk freely’ about sex and sexuality.” ~Motoi (iroha Public Relations)~

“There are all kinds of women out there. However, I think many of us have the same disadvantages because we are ‘female.’ We are bound by rigid stereotypes like ‘a woman should be like this’. In order to get rid of these stereotypes, it is important to question ‘why can or can’t we do this in the first place?’ I hope iroha can convey that message and show women that iroha products are something they can be comfortable with.”
~Nishino (iroha PR Manager)~


At iroha, we hope to make more people feel open to the conversation around self-pleasure and sexuality. As we celebrate the 9th anniversary of iroha, we want to celebrate all of the women out there enjoying themselves and taking care of themselves as they break the bias and the taboo surrounding female masturbation. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself and iroha is here to help you redefine self-pleasure. 

 We hope you have a wonderful March, celebrating yourself and all the women around you!