Unfiltered Story #104097

, | Unfiltered | January 21, 2018

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan while I was in college. During our orientation week, one of the staff volunteers mentioned that those of us who were taller might get some extra attention, but not to worry about it. I didn’t think much about it, because I’m an average height by Japanese standards, until random events like the ones below started happening to the taller students in the group:

1) While visiting a Japanese onsen (public bath house), my friend (who was at least 5’10”) had just removed her robe and was about to step into the water (we’re both women, so we were on the women’s side of the onsen) when a tiny, elderly Japanese lady popped out of the water and hustled over to us, completely naked. I thought at first maybe we had forgotten to do one of the pre-bathing steps and she was warning us, but when she reached us she stretched up as far as she could and patted the air somewhere around my friend’s shoulder.
“Takai!” (big/tall) She giggled, and then quickly hopped back into the onsen where her friends were all cracking up.

2) Another friend of mine in the group (a man) was over 6 feet tall, and had long hair down to his shoulders. One day, we were waiting for a cross walk sign to change, when a group of Japanese middle school-aged girls ran up to me, asking if they could take a picture with him. I said they’d have to ask him, and he was usually a good sport about that kind of thing, so I ended up with five phones/cameras shoved into my hands to take pictures of them with my friend. I don’t know if they thought he was a celebrity or were just excited to take a picture with a tall foreigner, but they were so happy.

3) When the same male friend was going through the airport on a flight from Japan to Korea, he got pulled over to the bag inspection table, but when the customs agents pulled out a pair of his shoes they forgot about the check and instead spent a few minutes talking about how big big his shoes were! That was it, they didn’t pull anything else out of the bag.

Overall, there were never any negative encounters for my taller friends, except for maybe not fitting comfortably in some spaces, and house slippers never fitting.

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