People watching – Legs for Days

After having lived in Japan for a while, I gradually started feeling more and more at home there. As life in Japan became ‘normal’ to me, I often forgot that I myself still looked all but normal to Japanese people. A tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed gaijin stands out in a Japanese crowd, no matter how ‘Japanese’ the gaijin in question might feel on the inside.

My acclimatization to life in Japan, and consequently my familiarity with that sea of dark-haired, fairly short Japanese people had a funny consequence: I started feeling surprised whenever seeing a gaijin (‘OMG, look, a gaijin, I wonder what they’re doing here’) or tall people (‘I can’t believe how tall that person is! Look how much they stand out.’). After which I was of course forced to remind myself that I am, in fact, a tall gaijin myself.

Nevertheless, it prompted me to attempt a sneak photograph of an exceptionally tall Japanese lady that I saw on the train. Especially her legs seem to go on for days:

Legs for days, in Japan
Do you think she noticed my sneak photography attempts?

16 thoughts on “People watching – Legs for Days

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  1. Wow — she does look extremely tall! I can only imagine the desire to blend in yet sticking out at the same time in Japan. I lived in the Netherlands when I was in college and definitely I could blend in appearance wise, but the minute I opened my mouth people would speak to me in English — even when I tried to speak in Dutch. I completely get the height thing about Holland. The Dutch are Amazons! Cheers! Steph

    1. I often hear foreigners in Belgium say the same thing: they don’t get any chance to practice Dutch because as soon as they try to say something and people notice they are a foreigner, they start answering them in English.

      I even heard a similar story about an African girl who was adopted by a Belgian family. She had lived in Belgium for most of her life and felt entirely Belgian. She was extremely frustrated because shopkeepers would occasionally greet her in English, thinking she was a foreigner.

      Ever since hearing those stories, I try to refrain from switching to English whenever a foreigner tries their halting Dutch on me 🙂

  2. Nice sneaky skills :p I always get caught trying to be sneaky. Or I chicken out on snapping a pic.

    I am 162 cm and for the most part I feel I am of average where I live. But while I was visiting Germany I felt a tad on the shorter side.

    1. If I ever buy a new camera, I will first check to make sure it has the option to eliminate the sound (like a beep or shuttersound or something like that) that most digital cameras produce when taking a photograph. It helps in being stealthy.

      If you found Germans to be tall, you should visit The Netherlands. I think Dutch people are the tallest in Europe on average.

      1. I heard many cameras are not allowing you to have the sound turned off to keep pervs from sneaking photos of ladies upskirt or down shirt. I would think this would not apply to bigger cameras.

        I was in Amsterdam for a day but I was so tired I hardly paid attention to the height of people. I did notice it was a huge melting pot, so many different nationalities in Amsterdam!

        I nominated you for a Liebster Award. You can play along if you like:

        1. I hadn’t stopped to think about the anti-perv function of the camera sound. I guess in Japan, where men are rumoured to have an obsession with panties (according to the animes I watch anyway), such a precaution is necessary.

          Thank you so much for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I really appreciate your reading and supporting my blog.

  3. Reminds me of a trip taken to Beijing while living in Nagoya. During breakfast at the hotel I spotted two young women sitting nearby, and I felt elated to see they were Japanese, just like me! (And this was after this American had lived less than a year in Japan.) The desire to connect with my “fellow countrymen” in this foreign place was so strong! I went over and offered many apologies for being so forward, explaining that I lived in Nagoya and was very curious about their experience in Beijing (so culturally different from Japan). I’m sure they were very surprised, having some strange American woman walk right up to them and address them in Japanese, but they were most kind and friendly towards me. At the end of the conversation I thanked them profusely and told them I couldn’t resist approaching them since I, too, was Japanese, which caused a good laugh all around. At 5 ft. tall, with brown hair and eyes, at least I blended in a bit. I also recall feeling much the way you did about fellow gaijin. I also loved how sharing a common foreign experience brought us gaijin together, even though we were from iroiro places in the world. 🙂

    1. Thank you for that story Ann! I have similar feelings when seeing Japanese tourists in Belgium. I usually experience a strong urge to run up to them and start speaking Japanese.

      And speaking of fitting in, I considered dying my hair brown when I was in Japan, to stand out a little less (and of course also because I was curious how it would look). But still, there is no changing my height, so I guess it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.

  4. I myself am well over 170 cm tall with shoes and I do look Japanese, here or overseas, I think. On my recent visit to Vietnam I had the feeling many were confused as to where I was from. Cyclo and motorbike taxi drivers would call out to me w/o being certain where I was from and would ask me in English where I was from at which I would say Tokyo and then they would start dropping their Japanese vocabulary. By the way I dress, I look Japanese enough but I am certainly too tall for one. ^^

    1. Your story reminds me of the time when I was showing some Japanese friends around Brussels last summer. When we passed through the most famous restaurant street in Brussels, I was very surprised to see that all the guys at the door (the guys recruiting customers) knew a few lines of Japanese!

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