My life, stories and shenanigans from Japan

Lament for the Giraffe


There’s something I hate about myself in Japan.

To just about everybody here, it’s extremely handsome, stylish, and amazing, but to me it’s an absolute burden, both physically and mentally.

And that thing I hate is the fact I’m 6’3” (195? cm).

First off, let’s start with the (somewhat minor) physical encumbrances .  Let’s face it: Japan is not a tall country.  The average is 5ft6or7 or something.  Well, it’s metric over here so its 170-something centimeters.  My desk (and chair) at school have “this chair/desk is intended for people between these heights:” stickers on them, whose limits start at about 5 foot and end at about 5 foot 7 (all you metric people, get your calculators out.  I’m on a rant and am tired of having to go back to my calculator every few seconds.) I’m 6’3” (195cm.  I know that by heart so I don’t need to convert).  I cannot physically enter my desk.  I have to manually lift the desk up and place it on my lap.  Besides that, I frequently hit my head on doors as well as signposts, chandeliers, advertisements, the bars to hold onto in the train, and so on.  Also, when it rains, and you’re on a crowded road where everyone has umbrellas, you get stabbed in the face with numerous umbrellas, as well as get all the drips from the tops of other people’s umbrellas.  So, when I’m on those roads, the most wet part of my person is the part right under the umbrella.

Now, onto the mental strain it’s causing me.

My goal in coming to Japan for this year was to, for one year, feel like a Japanese kid.  Sounds weird, but it’s something I’ve always wanted. 

Now I, towering over all the other kids, never get that feeling like I fit in.

If this were the animal kingdom, I’m the giraffe in the herd of zebras. 

Seriously, it’s the worst feeling.  Not being able to talk face-to-face with friends or to stand with them and just feel like the complete outcast.

It destroys me inside when I see a friend run up to another friend and put his arm around his shoulder, as friends do (How merry. Sounds old-fashioned, though this is Japan).  They never do it to me.  How could they? They can’t even reach.

When you can’t speak in normal Japanese with friends, you rely on those little physical gestures, the friend’s arm around your shoulder, friends running up and jokingly half-tackling you from behind, to feel accepted. 

I get approached by model scouts all the time as well as random people on the streets, all praising my height.  Though to me, I’d give my height just to fit in. 

CA3C0320

I drew this picture (on the back of my French homework, I might add), to try and illustrate my point.  It does a terrible job illustrating it, though it does an OK job illustrating what Zebras and Giraffes might look like if they were to walk on two legs. Not that that’s at all related. 

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Comments on: "Lament for the Giraffe" (5)

  1. oh colin you poor thing, i’m almost as tall as you now

  2. i know how you feel. im 6’7”, though im not in asia, im still always the tallest. its a weird feeling, but you can do anything about it. just know that they all admire you, and (literally) look up to you. i know about a two dozen people who wish they were taller, but none ( until now maybe) that wish they were shorter. you’re lucky

  3. jessica's (dutch) mum said:

    hi colin, i always enjoy reading your blog! but this part makes me feel sad :( i guess Jessica has the same ‘problem’ overthere. Please don’t let it spoil those last months. You both manage very well. (Maybe you can visit us in Holland sometime? Here we are all ‘giants’ and you will feel at home soon) bye

  4. Im now in japan too, afser as well (maybe you know me from fb)、and i have exactly same problem! Im girl、and about 173 cm long. It doesnt sound very tall but i havent seen taller girl in my school which has about 1000 students. Everybody is praising my height and my long legs、but its annoying because i want to be smaller. And as long as im girl、 im taller than many boys here! my friends do hug me but i hate to always look down when in talking them…

  5. oh im sorry youre yfu!but the problem is same…

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