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Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Page 1 of 4: Posts 1 - 20 of 64
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Reaction toward fat women? 2005/8/8 00:31
I'm an overweight 28 y/o woman, I'm planning on visiting Japan for the first time and I was wondering how people react toward fat women in Japan (consider the fact that I'm not there for dating) I just want to know if I'll be comfortable around the people there and not having them pointing at me.
by Aisha  

.. 2005/8/8 15:52
You should be fine people are nice and polite.

In all seriousness people will not be pointing you out like elementary school kids.

Have fun on the trip.
by .. rate this post as useful

I'm not so sure... 2005/8/9 07:44
I was just on the train and sat down next to a Japanese woman, probably about my age, 21. She glanced at me and said sugoi and muttered something to her friend in front of her, and I definitely heard a totemo in there. He friend glanced back at me and agreed. Granted my Japanese is very poor and I'm African American so it may have been about my skin, but I was deeply hurt. I have been in love with Japan and it's people for about 10 years of my life, and have known a few older Japanese women who were very sweet, one I even considered a friend. So to have one do something this rude to me just because she thinks I can't understand her was extremely hurtful. It has definitely shaken my admiration for such an otherwise wonderful ethnicity. I want to do the jet programme, but if this is the kind of thing I have to face then forget it. How rude!!!
by Kim rate this post as useful

ignorence is bliss 2005/8/9 07:49
just remember the old school yard saying. "sticks and stones". words mean nothing, even if they are in a different language. and remember this country is far from perfect. its just like america, australia or any other country. you will find good people and you will find A'holes. though it seems in any country you go to the "A's" will far outnumber the good people. just concentrate on enjoy an otherwise nice country and ignore the D'heads!
by ya mama rate this post as useful

Thank you! 2005/8/9 09:24
I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments and advices, I'll try to enjoy my time there without worrying too much.

Kim, I'm sorry to hear about your incident, I know the feeling, when things like this happens to me I just look them in the face until they turn their faces away, when people do wrong, they sure know it. I've been in love with Japan since I knew what Japanese is, that's almost my whole life, but I guess I am scared of facing people who'd comment about my figure and such.

ya mama, Thank you, all what you said it's true, I just need to enjoy it for myself not for them.

Once again thank you all!
by Aisha rate this post as useful

sugoi = "cool" 2005/8/9 11:06
Not having heard the conversation, I can't comment but "sugoi" means "cool" in colloquiol (sp?) Japanese.
by nanshi rate this post as useful

cool 2005/8/9 11:39
it depends what context you use it in. in your case it can mean cool, but in her case it ment like amazing. they looked at her and went "wow bla bla bla". words to listen out for are "oki" and "deka". they aint saying pretty things lets just say that
by u n m rate this post as useful

practicalities 2005/10/9 23:00
I'm a fat woman like Aisha and I'm concerned about practical aspects of my trip:
Will I have problems with seating?
Is the seat width on internal flights in Japan the same as anywhere in the world?
Do they have narrower seats in places like movie theaters and concert halls?
What about seating in restaurants?
by Katie rate this post as useful

Not too bad 2005/10/9 23:48
The seating on the planes for internal flights were okok for me. But maybe that's coz I sat on a JAL flight, don't know about the rest of the airlines though... But I'm pretty sure airlines like ANA are fine, since they're international. Restaurants are fine too, don't know about cinemas since I didn't get the chance to watch movies...
But it did feel strange walking on the streets since Japanese ladies are all thin. During my 10 day holiday in Japan, I only saw 3 plump girls... Felt out of place, coz I didn't quite fit in with the leggy Japanese girls who wear boots with mini-skirts even though it was a freezing winter... It was tough buying clothes & shoes, so I only bought souvenirs... I didn't see any big-sized clothes but I'm sure they cost a lot....
by Ermmm rate this post as useful

different now... 2005/10/10 00:16
This is my second time to live in Japan, the last time was about 6 years ago. And I must say that I have seen A LOT more overweight people this time. Men and women alike. Granted some may be of another asian descent, (I mean absolutely no disrespect but sometimes I can't tell if maybe their Korean, etc.) Still, most japanese are pretty small, it is definitely hard to find clothes here with my wide american hips, but I wouldnt worry about it too much. If I worried what people thought of me all the time,(even here in Japan), I'd never leave the house. Hope you enjoy Japan!
by tea78 rate this post as useful

Seats 2005/10/10 18:45
The seat width on internal flights, movie theaters and concert halls are about the same as the ones I've experienced in the U.S., Europe and other Asian countries. If you're okay with them, you'll be okay with seats in Japan.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Different strokes etc. 2005/10/10 23:02
I had the honor of living in Japan for 3 years after 2 years in Okinawa, i.e. 5 consecutive years in these two closely related, but not identical cultures.

In both places I found the people extremely polite BY THEIR CULTURE'S STANDARDS. Some were rude by MY STANDARDS but I never had a Japanese person be deliberately rude to me, and it only happened once in Okinawa.

Comments about your size would not necessarily be considered rude in Japan, but you will find they are more interested in your hight than weight. My wife is a six-footer. She was always being asked to allow someone to be photographed with her--usually either high school students or JASDF personnel.

by Bob rate this post as useful

Overweight 2005/10/12 23:48
This is a difficult question to answer.

First of all, for some background, I am an American student currently studying at a college in Kyoto. I am 5'6" and approximately 140 lbs - maybe average by American standards, but quite pudgey and tall by Japanese standards. When I first got here, I was extremely worried about my weight, (I was also about 10lbs heavier when I first arrived,) and looking unfashionable because most Japanese college students seem to have very good style (or at least are good at emulating the current trends,) and most all of them are stick-thin. However, you do see some larger girls and guys. For example, just today I saw a rather overweight cheerleader from our rival college. However, I have not had any problem at all, aside from having trouble buying clothes here.

What gets the most glares from Japanese people is not usually a person who looks different, (although extremely tall people, extremely overweight people, and people who dress oddly may get glanced at,) but a person who act strangely according to Japanese customs. For example, a few of the students I'm studying with are overweight. Only one has every gotten any strange comments ("That person is big and scary" - some lady at Kyoto Station) and I think it's because of the very American way he holds himself, talks, laughs, pronounces Japanese, etc.

However, your location will also make a difference. If you are going to be in a very small town with no foreigners, people will be very surprised and may stare for both positive and negative reasons. In cities like Tokyo or Osaka, or even small cities, this doesn't seem to happen. I'm usually ignored on the train. Honestly, I wouldn't worry if people stare or try to talk to you, because most of them are just curious or trying to be friendly.

I have to add one thing, though: The Japanese standard of "fat" is still very thin by American standards. Being a foreigner, you will probably not be judged by these standards, but Japanese children and teenagers often have a hard time with it. For an amusing example, my host sister (who is 4-years old) often makes references to her cousin who is "THIS BIG." My host parents usually tell her not to say things like that, but also laugh. I think this leads to the current attitude about overweight people in Japan - that it's not okay to say something about it, but everyone notices. On the other hand, if she says that I'm fat, my host parents will tell her that she's being very rude. I think this displays the double standard quite well. I would have to say, though, that the totally negative image of heavier Japanese girls seems to be changing as their average weight and height increases.

In any case, as a foreigner, the way that you feel in Japan mostly depends on your own self-image. If you are confident, polite, and friendly, it is very unlikely that you will have a problem or feel uncomfortable.

I can't say that I've properly answered this question, but I hope I've given some people something to think about.
by Michele rate this post as useful

My experience... 2005/10/13 09:44
I am a nissei. I also have been tall and heavy set since I was quite young. I always had a complex about being a bit heavy in my younger days since all my relatives and sisters were really tiny and slender like their genes would show. Our Japanese friends were always commenting on my growing physique by saying "My is she big!" Never did they use the word tall, which was the truth too!
The previous posts are all good and have validity in various situations. Let me add a few of my thoughts and experiences. The Japanese, in my experience do not point out differences for the same reasons westerners do. Also, they point out some physicalities just as a matter of fact. Like that man that wears a toupee, or the girl with the bangs, the freckle-faced boy, the tall gaigin... The most noticeable to me were the age related signs. When I lived in Japan, and first met my youngest Aunt, my oldest uncle walked in the room and said, "Wow, you look a lot older. I see some more wrinkles!" She said matter of factly, "Yeah, I noticed them too." Here in the U.S., a comment like that would have your life shortened or you would have no friends, but my Uncle was a sweet guy and was always quick to help a person out. He also told me that my aunt started snoring when she gained weight and aksed me if I snore too! No one in the room seemed embarrassed or upset, and neither was I for the first time!!
The Japanese are poud of their age. The women don't hide it like they do here.
The problem of obesity is hitting their culture too now with the introduction of Western foods and a sedentary, computer-game life style. So you will see a growing number of plump and taller youngsters. They are also more used to "bigger" westerners now. Luckily, when I lived there, my dress style screamed westerner and they didn't apply the same standard to me :) A lot of Japanese will set aside that for their fascination of all things American.
Some Japanese are not used to newcomers, but once you open up to them, they become quite warm. You need to just have the right attitude and become a positive example and show that what matters is most is what's on the inside.
by Maxxie rate this post as useful

Feeling better now :) 2005/10/17 01:14
What a relief! I am somewhat overweight, and I have been wondering about how I will be recieved, but I do now understand that I don't have to worry too much. But still I wonder why all the japanese women (and men) are so slim. Are they constantly on diets, or is it pure luck (good genes)?
by Zpi rate this post as useful

diets 2005/10/17 05:12
simple- they burn off more calories (or equal) to that which is ingested. A calorie is a unit of energy that is needed to raise one gram of water by 1 degree celsius. EVERY diet is based on this premises. Fish is relatively low in calories so a high fish diet mixed with exercise can be enough to easily burn off fat. A lot of fish is high in omega 3 oil which is good for building tissue- meaning it is essentially good for everything- which is probably why areas in Japan have higher life expectancy than areas in Europe and the U.S. It isn't a case of cutting out food.
by magoo rate this post as useful

Fish :) 2005/10/18 05:31
I love fish, maybe I'll just change my diet then...
by Zipi rate this post as useful

fat women??? 2006/1/23 22:47
Well, I'm not an overweight woman, but I do have big breasts, and I want to teach English in Japan. How will Japanese people react?? I'm a bit worried especially of the male reaction.
by Hannah rate this post as useful

Large 2006/1/24 01:16
Just act as though your own body is completely normal (which, after all, it is, for you). Anyone who would then be so forward as to show any indication that they thought otherwise should be treated exactly as you would treat a man in your own culture who made some kind of point of noticing your body in an embarrassing way.
by watagei rate this post as useful

to other fat ladies 2006/3/3 23:00
Thank you for your replies. I went to Tokyo and Osaka in December and I had no problems. Japanese people are mostly polite and helpful to foreigners. Seating was OK except once in an IMAX theatre where the seat was too narrow and very uncomfortable.
You should expect to be stared at A LOT. It didn't bother me because I've had some very unpleasant experiences at home with strangers insulting me in the street or informing me I should go on a diet. Being stared at in Japan is nothing in comparison. I don't even know if I was stared at because I'm fat or because I stand out so much (red hair, pale skin with freckles). Other fat ladies out there should have no problems visiting Japan.
by Katie rate this post as useful

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