Comic: Trying on clothes in Japan

YB_4_09 japan comic comics cartoon texan in tokyo fitting in clothes

I’m just going to start this off my saying that in my family, I’m short. (Or, as my dad likes to say, “fun sized”).

Everyone – mom, dad, older brother, younger sister, all the cousins – they are ALL significantly taller than me. I’m 5’6″, by the way.

But in Japan, I’m tall. And that combination of the tall-ness and the hips (as talked about in this post) means that most “free size” Japanese dresses fit more like shirts. And most skirts look down right inappropriate.

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Like these comics? Check out my comic books (on Amazon):

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book

and

My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy

and

Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

26 Comments on Comic: Trying on clothes in Japan

  1. We could definitely have some conversations! I’m probably older than your mother, but when I was a 27 year old newlywed, I lived in Tokyo for two years with my husband who is half Japanese. Also 5’6″ and slender like you (WAY back then) clothes shopping and everything I did was a challenge and adventure all in one. I never learned how to speak Japanese as well as you do but I could get around and do what I needed to do, like order pizza over the phone and have it delivered! I felt very tall there too and thought I was tall until I came back home to TEXAS and hung around my high school friends who were all way taller than I am. Shoes were my problem. My shoe size (US 7.5 )was the very largest they had there and they didn’t have many that size anywhere.
    We moved back to the states, had our three daughters, then moved back to Tokyo for two more years. I loved it there and wouldn’t mind moving back someday. I’ve been back for visits, but not in a long time.
    One of my daughters told me about you and your blog, etc. Keep it up!

  2. Hahaha! I’m 5’7″ and also from a family of giraffes. My mom and sister are both 5’10”. Even in American stores a “mini dress” is a shirt and a “knee length” is a mini. There are similar guidelines for boots.

  3. Anonymous // 21 July, 2015 at 7:27 am //

    being 5’6 with hips is an enviable body type, at least for me. you can look glamorous and pull off looks the typical asian body type can’t

  4. I thought all the lacy bra sets were so cute and cheap when I was shopping last time in Tokyo, so I asked a sales lady for some in my size. She went to storage in the back, pulled down a full garbage bag from the back top shelf full of these massively huge padded lacy nightmares. I swear, you could paddle around in them in Tokyo Bay. So much for “just” being a 36C.

  5. This is a problem for most girls of European (“white”) descent in Japan, because of the differences in body types. It’s difficult not to get body issues when trying to wear clothes made for Japanese girls!

  6. I’m 5’2 but more often than not weight 135 or so with a bigger frame and chest\booty. Something tells me I’d have just as hard of a time finding anything that fits, but I guess it would be nice to be around lots of people as short as me to :). I was wondering I have CP and troubles walking, how is disability handled in Japan? I never hear anyone talk about it on any of the sites read about Japan. I ask because I hear Japan is full of hills and I can’t ride a bike like lots of places suggest, but I’d still love to visit at least once…

  7. I’m Roxanne from Hungary. I’ve just read your post, and I would say that I feel the same. Even if that I’m still living in Hungary. Because I’m 193 cm tall, and usually every dress is just a shirt for me. :D I’m planning to move to Japan in 2 years, so it will be a fun adenture to find clothes for me. haha

  8. I’m 170cm (almost 5’7″) and I still have to wear so many of my jeans with turn-ups D: Maybe my torso is too long. I’m also overweight, I’d probably have to order all clothes online from abroad if I lived in Japan oO
    Surely there are a few overweight Japanese people, where do they shop if the stores mostly carry only up to size 25 in jeans as you said in the article you linked?

  9. Tinker Black // 16 July, 2015 at 4:36 pm //

    The average height for white female Americans ages 20-39 is 5’5″ (1.65m), so you are slightly taller than average and even more so when you include all ages and races. The average height for Japanese women ages 20-49 is 5’2″ (1.08m).

  10. I don’t even properlly reach 5’0…
    And somehow I’m still short in this country. But most things my size are gone too fast.
    Then figure my half-hispanic waist and normal chest size—it’s just as hard to find clothes being teeny tiny ( ・᷄ὢ・᷅ )

  11. I’m 5’2″. Living in Japan was the only time I was of average (ish) height. It was great.

  12. I’ll have to pick your brain for clothes when I move to Japan. You’re just about my height and we wear the same size shoes. I’m resigned to know that I will have to order jeans from Maurices though. My butt to waist ratio is not easy to fit. Where do you get your maxi dresses? I’ve been wanting to get one but like good quality over fancy patterns.

  13. Haha, my wife is 5’2″, 95 pounds! And, I LOVE that about her! Speaking of “shape,” she’s very sensitive about her small CHEST (unfortunately, other GIRLS teased her about that when she was in high school). But, she’s totally cool with her HEIGHT, and even jokes that it’s great going shopping together, because as SHE puts it, “she can get stuff from the lower shelves, and I can get stuff from the upper shelves!” (not that I’m imposing either, just 5’10”)

  14. You’re actually allowed to try on the free-size clothing?! I’m so jealous! In Korea they never let you try on free-size items.. or white items.. or cardigans.. or t-shirts.. or most dresses.. basically you can try on fitted pants and jeans :/
    I don’t even bother with most market shops because I have no way of knowing if things will fit, or if they will even look good if they do :”'((((

    • In Japan it depended on the store; most let you try on free-size items, but some stores wouldn’t let you try on white things (but would be happy to let you try on the same item in a different color.) There were usually face guards in the fitting rooms to put over your face so your makeup didn’t rub off. Also, I don’t know how they do it in Korea, but in Japan a good number of stores will have display copies to try on and bagged copies in back to actually give to customers.

  15. 呉ローラ // 15 July, 2015 at 7:19 pm //

    You think you are short, Grace? Σ(ºд º///)
    You are taller than my husband and I!!!!
    I’m 5’3″ and a half and my husband is 5’5″ lol

    You are tall , girl! (^_−)−☆

  16. It is always so annoying for many “Western” people to get suiting clothes in Asia. In China I do not even try anymore to find anything, it is just a waste of time :)

  17. im 175cm tall and i can never remember how much this is in feet/ inches, but i think it’s about your height?. Im tall by romanian standards. most women are some 2 to 5 cm shorter than me. and most men are my height. [something i dislike]
    so you’re not only tall by japanese standards, but by romanian ones as well. but, here you can find clothes that fit well, cause the stores have all sorts of sizes, haha

  18. Anonymous // 15 July, 2015 at 3:12 pm //

    I’m 5’11” and all the lenght is in my legs, so every pants is like a capri and every skirt is like a mini-skirt.

  19. Philip Ebbrell // 15 July, 2015 at 2:21 pm //

    My sister is 5 11 and her hubby is 5 7. She worries about the height difference.

  20. Beth Buchele // 15 July, 2015 at 11:09 am //

    Grace darling!
    Long ago I also had great trouble finding clothes that fit. In 7th grade I was 5’2″, by 9th grade I was 5’9″, really skinny but with hips. So I learned to sew my own clothes. Do Japanese ladies sew their clothing?
    Your Great Granddad Fred Jagger was short, maybe 5’6″, his wife, your Great Grandma Ethel Jagger was 5’11”, her brothers and father were around 6’6″. And your Great Grandmother Bessie Buchele was maybe 5’0″.
    So lots of different heights in the family. And you got the shorter genes.
    I love your dad’s term, “fun-sized”. What a great way to describe you!
    Aunt Beth

  21. Same here! :)

  22. You tell ’em Grace!

  23. At least you can disguise regular pants as capris!

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