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fat-shaming in japan?

texas, usa
Level Contributor
45 posts
28 reviews
fat-shaming in japan?

so, i was getting my hair cut today, and my hairdresser said her friend had recently gone to japan and felt singled out for her weight and had some negative encounters. i deal with a large amount of japanese people in my job, and have never felt any kind of judgement from them, my feeling is that the japanese are too polite to try to make anyone try to feel bad. anyone have some personal experience on this?

43 replies to this topic
Kobe, Japan
Level Contributor
4,221 posts
17 reviews
1. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

Among Japanese, especially school kids, sure. To a foreign tourist, very doubtful. But we weren't there to see what happened, so impossible to say.

Tokyo and California
Destination Expert
for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
Level Contributor
28,852 posts
69 reviews
2. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

Yep, among Japanese, it happens all the time, but I highly doubt that anybody will say anything to your face.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
5,306 posts
24 reviews
3. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

I'm an American man with a 38 inch waist. My doctor says I fit the definition of obese. I have spent a total of 12 months in Japan, split among 10 long trips. I think that Japanese people are used to seeing large foreign tourists. I have never felt singled out in any way in Japan because of my weight. If anything, people have been kind, silently adjusting their chairs so I could more easily navigate the crowded breakfast room at the hotel. Japanese people are polite and want to make a good impression on foreigners. Of course, I don't understand Japanese, so if people were talking about me I wouldn't have understood it. I have never gone to any onsen, which might be a high-risk area for comments.

I have been singled out in Japan for looking vaguely middle eastern. Two photography hobbyists politely asked to photograph me. Police stopped me at the Narita airport train station and asked to see my passport. And my luggage has been subjected to special inspections twice at airports.

puerto princesa
Level Contributor
8,286 posts
549 reviews
4. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

I am fat and was in Japan last year for 10 days and nobody said anything and there were certainly no schoolkids laughing or pointing to me.

Kobe, Japan
Level Contributor
4,221 posts
17 reviews
5. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

I live here and Japanese friends will quickly make a remark if they think that I've gained or lost weight. They're very frank about it among friends/colleagues and I was put off by it at first. But I've never seen it with someone who they don't know. Japanese are very good at just ignoring those around them who they don't know.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12,194 posts
25 reviews
6. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

Bargain Hunter--you really need to try an onsen. As for shaming in Onsen? Not that I have seen and I have seen guys up to Sumo size in there...

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
62,279 posts
171 reviews
7. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

Honestly, I think in many societies worldwide, we are judged by our respective body types constantly. In Japan, it's really no better or no worse. The good thing is you know 1) they won't say anything to your face; 2) even if they do whisper something, it's not like you would understand; 3) they probably won't see you again.

Just enjoy your trip and don't worry about what others think.

Japan
Level Contributor
4,189 posts
149 reviews
8. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

I see and encounter discrimination for lots of things, but not weight. I believe Sibuayakko has a more unique insight from a local perspective, but for a tourist? Not very likely.

Tokyo and California
Destination Expert
for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
Level Contributor
28,852 posts
69 reviews
9. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

Japanese people are very weight conscious and talk about being overweight/underweight all the time. So naturally, people will talk about a person who's extremely big or skinny. It's just human nature, I think.

i hear Japanese people talking about a "fat American" in trains, restaurants, shops etc all the time, not to his/her face, of course. Not understanding Japanese is a blessing at times.

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
310 posts
50 reviews
10. Re: fat-shaming in japan?

A couple of times an elderly person told me that I looked like I had gained weight. I was a little confused the first time, because it wasn't true. When I mentioned this to a good friend, she told me that among the war generation, it is actually a compliment because it means to them that you have enough to eat. This only happened out in the countryside, and it was always old ladies who were acquaintances. And it was in Japanese, not English, Shibuyakko, does this sound like a plausible explanation?

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