The Tenga Iroha Stick and Pleasure Politics

Every once in a while, a product comes along that reminds me of the importance of considering factors outside of sheer power. These products make me really question what a good toy is, what it means to be committed to pleasure equality, and what the market really needs. The Tenga Iroha Stick is one such product.


Tenga has long been one of my favorite companies for myriad reasons. They make products that suit all kinds of junk, from masturbator eggs to BJ-simulation cups to ultra-squishy little pillows of vibration. They use safe, stable materials in their manufacturing (which shouldn’t be a rarity, and yet here we are). All of my exchanges with their reps — both via email and in person — have been lovely. Put simply, I really like to support Tenga, because I think they’re doing it right.

In order to fairly evaluate the Iroha Stick, we need to talk about what it is and what it isn’t.

It is made of high-quality materials, but it is not a luxury vibe.

The Iroha Stick is marketed as a portable, affordable indulgence, which is something that I am all about. Like a Toblerone or a Benton sheet mask, the Stick is a both better made and a bit pricier than its bottom-shelf counterparts.

Silicone has become the gold standard for vibrator materials, and we’re starting to see it more even on entry-level sex toys. The silicone that makes up the usable tip (the coral-y-orange-y bit) is very smooth with a bit of give to it, but not so soft as to catastrophically dampen vibrations. It also isn’t a huge dust magnet. Consequently, the silicone feels quite luxurious to me. (Note: It comes with a clear plastic cap to protect the silicone tip, but I already lost it.)

At first, I was skeptical about the control mechanism. It’s very simple: You twist the base to control the vibration level. It seemed a little old-school at first, and I wondered why they didn’t opt for buttons. But when combined with the removable battery, the twist base makes the Stick a great travel option. Also, and this is purely conjecture, it probably costs a bit less to produce, which is a savings that Tenga can pass on to consumers.

Tenga makes it pretty clear that they were going for a lipstick kind of vibe (heh) when they designed this toy. It’s not exactly discreet, but it’s a minimalist, inoffensive design that allows for you to use it externally in a couple different ways. You can press the very tip — which has a wedge cut out of it — against the clit for pinpoint stimulation. You can also use the slightly concave top to cover more area, be it against your clit or your perineum.

But here’s the catch: Power Queens and Beans, this is not the bullet for you.

It’s not uncommon to find bullet vibrators buzzy, especially ones that are powered by either watch batteries or AAAs. Small form factors necessitate small motors, and most vibrators that run on batteries just can’t pack the same punch as a rechargeable. I definitely own toys that are weaker or buzzier than the Iroha Stick, and the Stick is definitely no Tango substitute. (To be fair, it’s not trying to be.)

All that said, I don’t find the Iroha Stick to be un-usable. Quite the contrary, I actually enjoy it on its lower speeds, where it’s a bit rumblier. If I’m in a good headspace, if I’m aroused, if I’m having a good time, I can easily have a totally decent orgasm with the Iroha Stick. It’s not the heavy hitter I bring out on days when I wonder if I’ll ever come, but with a good head start, it can get the job done.

Ok, but should I buy it?

If you’re like me in that you can pretty easily orgasm — especially if you’ve had success with inexpensive bullets in the past — then the Iroha Stick will probably work for you. Not everyone needs the most powerful, the rumbliest, or the most expensive toy. Maybe you just want something well-made and reliable.

If you just want to find out if you like vibration and you really don’t want to spend more than £30 to do so, I would totally recommend this. It’s body safe, it’s affordable, and it’s made by a company that I actually feel good supporting. Similarly, if you’re not picky about buzzy versus rumbly and you want something tiny to travel with, this would be a great pick.

Because it can be had for less than £25, it’s a low-risk investment for many people, and it’s within reach for those who simply do not have the cash for something more luxe. Personally, I think we need to make more room for toys like this in the market. People deserve access to safe pleasure products.

Ultimately, I’d love to see powerful, safe, affordable toys made by ethical manufacturers. But I’ll settle for safe, affordable, and ethical if need be. I think the Iroha Stick ticks those very important boxes.