So what’s it like being taller than everyone else?

I wouldn’t know.

From Feiler’s Learning to Bow:

“During the height of the Pacific War, when Japan was almost completely cut off from the rest of the world…the average daily intake of a Japanese adult consisted of only 1,200 calories, less than is found in an average junior high school lunch today…

(The modern school lunch) menu…which includes milk, beef, and other ingredients not part of the traditional Japanese vegetarian diet, was the single most significant factor in improving the physical make-up of the population.  Japanese children have grown dramatically taller in the last half a century.  In 1950 the average fourteen-year-old boy was four feet, ten inches tall.  In 1988 a boy the same age had surged half a foot to five feet, four inches tall.  The average girl has grown from four feet nine to five feet two.  Students weigh more as well.  The male student today weighs twenty-eight pounds more than his counterpart of 1950…

These eating patterns, combined with a general tendency to eat less red meat than in other industrialized countries ensure that a Japanese junior high student can expect to outlive his or her peers in every other country in the world.  A girl born today can expect to live to be eighty-two years old and a boy nearly seventy-six.”

The book was published in 1991, which means the students he writes about are now my peers and colleagues.  I have not felt taller than usual at any point during our stay in Japan.  Many students and teachers in my school are as tall or taller than I am (six foot).

I tried my first school lunch yesterday.  It was healthy and delicious.


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