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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Clothes Make The Man

When I was back there in seminary school… sorry… I had a Doors song going through my head for a moment.

When I was back in Japan, the biggest problem people like myself and Matthew had was finding clothing that could fit us and not make us look like a sumo wrestler.

Now… Matthew and I were not what you would call overly large people. Matthew was taller than myself, and I may have been broader… but no one in the U.S. or Canada (our respective home countries) would ever have called us a mutant.

While I admit to no longer being my svelte self from 20 years ago, back in 1990 I was 5' - 11-1/2" tall and 177 lbs.  Strangely enough, two things I no longer am. I also wore a US 10-1/2 shoe…

I had a 15-inch neck for my dress shirts, Was a M for my t-shirts, and wore a 32-inch waist for my jeans.

All pretty normal stuff. So… it should have been pretty easy for me to purchase clothes in Japan - right?


Forget about the fact that I had no idea how to purchase clothing for myself back then, it was painfully obvious after talking to other like-sized JETs (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme participants that the odds of finding clothing that would fit us were between slim and none.

I was actually warned by the JET Programme before leaving Toronto that I would be considered huge by Japanese standards…  so I bought clothing and shoes that would fit and last.

Fashionable it was not. Those shoes…

During my self-introduction at my seven junior high schools in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan, I would ask my students to guess what I had that was 30 centimeters (12-inches) long. San-ju sen-chi.

Snickers amongst the teenager girls ensued, jaws dropping amongst the boys, and snickers of embarrassment from the teachers - both male and female.

People… get your mind out of the gutter… I was, of course, talking about my shoes.

Despite the muscular thigh, I am pointing to my shoe!
Yes… in Japan shoe sizes are measured in centimeters… there is no mysterious size 10-1/2… like WTF does 10-1/2 equate too?! It's like women's clothing size.

Look at me - I'm huge… I'm a 12. Riiii-iiight. No one knows what 12 means… And you still look pretty good. I suppose no one knowing what size you really are is a good thing for someone.

Anyhow… at that time, you could NOT buy shoes over 27cm in Japan. How strange, I thought… because despite many Japanese being shorter than myself, there were a lot of Japanese high school boys as tall as me - if not bigger!

What the hell were they doing?

Oh… maybe they were purchasing school uniforms and clothing from a particular company that actually offered all manner of clothing and shoe sizes…

Hmm… all I know is that I was SOL (Sh!t Outta Luck).

My mom did send me a pair of shoes after my first year, but really, it wasn't until I traveled out to Thailand - home of many a FFM for me - that I had a clothes maker make a suit for me: two silk shirts, a jacket and a pair of raw sill pants.

I designed them - I paid for it ($110 total), and they made it for me and delivered it to my hotel in a mere eight hours over night.

Personally, I thought I looked great in these clothes… but I realized I should never have made a jacket that was red, as I looked like a waiter or valet.

Also… in Japan where it is very humid, I sweat a lot… turning that purple-blue silk shirt into a sodden, soggy, dark, dark, blue-black mess. Gaijin… avoid wearing silk if you know you are going to sweat… which is anytime and damn near everywhere in Japan.

I think what made me more of a sweaty mess was the fact that I began growing my hair. Yeah… guess what else I have that is 30-centimeters long. Yes, unfortunately I'm talking about my pony-tail.
Bonus Pic! Matthew on the right always a good sport! Perhaps too good a sport! Why am I holding his leg?

Just recently I attempt to replicate that past success with the hair, but I cut it. Maybe I'll just get in shape again. Thanks to working out, I'll never be the same size I was before, but at least I can try and get the same shape…
If you are going to Japan for an extended period of time, bring your own clothing and shoes. Extras of it.

Not only will you be unlikely to purchase clothing that will fit you, you may actually look at standard Japanese fashion and thank whatever god(s) you pray to for being bigger than the average Nihonjin.

Really. I watched super sexy women rendered almost average by the choice of clothing they were forced to endure.

Be forewarned and forearmed.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Camera was on us and I think you were trying to push my leg away - not hold it! ROFL!

    1. No... I was holding it... it is the best picture I have of Japan - and I'm not even the star of it!

    2. Nope - that drunk, sukebe no oyaji look in your eye, with your umpteenth beer in hand, def. makes you the star!

  2. Your mullet... it is GLORIOUS!

    1. Jimbo... it's true... long at the back and short at the front... and until you wrote it... I wasn't aware it was a mullet. OMG >.< I had a mullet? Crap! I thought I was good-looking! Mullet... (mutter-mutter-mutter)... yeesh.