size matters


No, not that kind of size.

I knew Toko was huge. Everything you read about the area emphasizes it's really an amalgamation of cities rather than one, how the density of buildings and people is staggering.

But reading and hearing about it is nothing like experiencing it. I've been to all of the major US cities--New York, Chicago, LA, DC, Miami, etc. With each, there's a clear sense of city center, and gradual lessening of density and urban feel as you spread out. Here, it feels like city everywhere you go, and the city goes on forever. You can be on trains for literally two hours to get from one very urban part of the city to another.

And as a person under five feet tall, it's also mind-altering for me to be in large crowds of people my size. Those of you up there in the average US height range can't understand this, I suspect, but to suddenly be in an environment where everything fits me is very strange. I can touch the ceilings in some public places. I can change lightbulbs without standing on tables. I can reach the hanging hand-holds in the subway trains.

When the two sizes meet--the enormous crowds of small-sized people--it's very different for me than being caught in a crowd of people all a foot taller than me stateside. It's cramped and crowded and pushy--but it's manageable in a way that large crowds normally aren't for me.


I can't quite shake the image of you cruising around Tokyo changing lightbulbs :).

I'm 5 foot 6 (165 cm), so pretty average for women in Norway, but one of the awesome things about being in Asia for me is actually being as tall as or taller than most people, including the men. It stuns me every time, and really makes me realise how much mens' simple height advantage means in day to day life.

Sounds like you're having a wonderful time, Liz - enjoy it! And oh, yes, those Japanese baths are amazing. And the hospitality, the friendliness. Wow.

In Houston, there is a building that has elevators with the buttons placed really high. I'm 6'0" and this building made me feel short. The buttons were placed higher for the yuppie executives. Apparently, they only hired really tall people to run this company.

It's nice to hear you observing
the same things I observed on
my trip to China. I felt the same way
about both the population density
and the height facet, being
that I'm only 5'7".





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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on February 25, 2004 10:42 PM.

update from japan was the previous entry in this blog.

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