Tokyo isn’t such a great place to visit if you’re self-conscious about your weight. I remember the first few days I spent settling into my apartment. The apartment door heights were short, the hallways narrow, and I was a head taller than the crowds of Japanese women who walked in front of me on the way to the train station.
I was already self-conscious about my size, and had been on countless diets in the US prior to arriving in Japan. I had tried everything from calorie counting to eating lots of salads to Weight Watchers, and exercised for 1-2 hours per day, but I wasn’t able to get my weight to budge.
I also felt horribly excluded in Tokyo when venturing into retail shops only to discover each store only carried clothing in a “free size” (one-size-fits-all). It seemed that the only fashionable items I could pick out were jewelry and shoes, and I started migrating to international shops like Zara and H&M to find pieces I could wear.
Me at a fruit stand in Japan.
How are Japanese women so slim?
I couldn’t understand why Japanese women were so slim despite eating all of the things I was told to avoid when wanting to lose weight. Noodles, rice, afternoon cake with a friend — the Japanese seemed to know how to have a bit of everything without consequence.
I also didn’t see any Japanese women power-walking in spandex with a 2-liter bottle of water tucked under their arms. They seemed to maintain their slim bodies just fine by walking around the city and doing yoga, instead of hitting the gym and doing high-intensity training like what I was used to seeing women do in the US.