The Average Height In Japan And The World

Have you ever found yourself delving into the intriguing topic of the average height of individuals in Japan? Contemplating what defines the typical height of Japanese people and whether it’s currently undergoing a shift, or perhaps even a renaissance? Surprisingly, discussions on this subject are rather scarce, yet height remains a significant preoccupation for many individuals across the globe. Some harbor aspirations of towering over others, while others grapple with the notion of towering too high.

Within the context of Japan, the matter of height holds a prominent position in societal consciousness. While Japanese individuals generally possess a more modest stature compared to their Western counterparts and those from Central Asian countries like Korea and China, it’s indeed captivating to observe the remarkable changes that the average height of the Japanese population has undergone over the past century.

Are Japanese people short?

Certainly, throughout the annals of history, Japanese people were often recognized for their comparatively diminutive stature. In an earlier era, the average height for Japanese males stood at approximately 5 feet 2 inches (160.3 centimeters), while their female counterparts averaged around 4 feet 9 inches (148.9 centimeters) in height.

But what factors have contributed to this characteristic?

One compelling explanation can be traced to genetics. East Asians, including the Japanese, harbor a unique genetic trait associated with shorter stature, known as the high-mobility group AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) gene [1]. This genetic predisposition has played an integral role in shaping the physical attributes of the Japanese people.

Furthermore, the aftermath of World War II ushered in transformative changes in Japanese society, both in terms of physicality and mentality. This period marked a pivotal juncture, leading to significant alterations in lifestyle, nutrition, and overall well-being. As a result, the historical portrayal of Japanese people as “short” endured for well over a century.


So, how about the average height in Japan and the world today?

Japanese height increased more than other countries, except South Korea. They acquired nearly 6 inches (15 centimeters) between 1914 and 2014 [2]. Particularly, the mean height of Japanese men is 5 feet 8 inches (172.06 centimeters). Meanwhile, the mean height of Japanese women is 5 feet 2 inches (158.5 centimeters) [3].

But compared to the average height of Americans, Australians, or British people, the Japanese are still short by about 1.1 – 1.5 inches (3 – 4 centimeters).

Below is the table with the average of some countries. Let’s take a look!

CountryThe average height of menThe average height of women
Latvia5 feet 11 ½ inches (181.2 centimeters)5 feet 6 ½ inches (168.8 centimeters)
Netherlands5 feet 11 ½ inches (181.2 centimeters)5 feet 6 ½ inches (168.5 centimeters)
Denmark5 feet 11 inches (180.4 centimeters)5 feet 6 inches (167.2 centimeters)
Poland5 feet 10 ½ inches (178.7 centimeters)5 feet 5 inches (165.1 centimeters)
Germany5 feet 10 inches (178 centimeters)5 feet 5 inches (165 centimeters)
Australia5 feet 9 inches (175.6 centimeters)5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.8 centimeters)
United States5 feet 9 inches (175.3 centimeters)5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.3 centimeters)
Spain5 feet 8 ½ inches (174 centimeters)5 feet 4 inches (163 centimeters)
South Korea5 feet 8 ½ inches (174.6 centimeters)5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.5 centimeters)
China5 feet 6 inches (167.1 centimeters)5 feet 1 ½ inch (155.8 centimeters)
Thailand5 feet 4 ½ inches (163.7 centimeters)5 feet ½ inches (153.7 centimeters)
Peru5 feet 4 ½ inches (164 centimeters)4 feet 11 ½ inches (151 centimeters)

What affects height in Japan?

Although the Japanese typically have shorter stature compared to many Westerners, they have witnessed a remarkable increase in their average height over the span of less than a century. This intriguing phenomenon can be attributed to a multitude of factors, some of which are detailed below.


The role of genetics in determining an individual’s height cannot be overstated. If parents possess tall stature, there is a strong likelihood that their offspring will also inherit this trait. Notably, Japan experienced an influx of unions between Japanese women and U.S. troops who had stationed in the country following World War II. This led to the birth of a generation often referred to as “hybrids,” and this genetic mixing had a lasting impact on the future height of the Japanese population.


Diet and nutrition stand out as another crucial factor influencing height. Adequate and appropriate nutrition during childhood and adolescence can significantly influence a person’s growth, encompassing both physical and mental aspects of health.

So, what measures have the Japanese taken to improve their nutritional status?

The Japanese government initiated a comprehensive campaign known as the “Milk Plan.” This initiative introduced milk into school meals during the 1950s and 1960s, with the primary goal of bolstering the nation’s health in the aftermath of World War II. To this day, Japanese students regularly consume milk and various other dairy products, although their milk consumption remains lower than that in America and Europe. Additionally, the Japanese incorporated pork and beef into their diets to increase protein intake, a crucial nutrient for muscle and bone development.

Another noteworthy facet of the Japanese diet is their frequent consumption of fish and natto. Natto, a traditional and nutritious food, has been celebrated for its contributions to bone health and immune system support, while fish offers a rich source of nutrients essential for optimal growth in height.

Interestingly, the traditional Japanese breakfast composed of rice, seaweed, soybean-paste soup, and pickled vegetables has gradually given way to a more westernized menu featuring toast, scrambled eggs, cereals, and tossed salads in some households. This transition is not uncommon, especially since many hotels in Japan now offer both Japanese and Western-style breakfast options.

In sum, the increase in the average height of the Japanese population is a multifaceted phenomenon driven by genetics, improved nutrition, and evolving dietary preferences that reflect both tradition and globalization.


Changes in Japanese Eating Habits

Over the years, the cultural landscape of Japan has witnessed a profound transformation, particularly in the realm of eating habits. The traditional practice of enjoying rice balls for lunch has gradually given way to a modern culinary shift. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to witness long queues forming outside fast-food outlets and convenience stores across Japan. Delivery personnel can be seen shuttling pizzas and hamburgers alongside the once ubiquitous rice and noodle dishes.

The Dietary Supplement Revolution

The dietary supplement industry in Japan has undergone a remarkable evolution, with its roots tracing back to the early 1990s when these products were relatively unknown. Fast forward to today, and Japan has emerged as the world’s third-largest market for dietary supplements. A staggering 70% of the Japanese population now incorporates vitamins and supplements into their daily lives, reflecting a significant shift towards health-consciousness.

The Pursuit of Height through Physical Activity

For those seeking to maximize their growth potential, combining a structured exercise regimen with a balanced diet has become a prevailing strategy. It is believed that such practices can stimulate the release of growth hormones, a critical factor in achieving greater height.

Radio Taiso, a radio-based exercise program initiated by the Japanese government in 1982, gained immense popularity. Comparable to the famed “Milk Plan,” this initiative resonated particularly well with children and the elderly. Moreover, Japanese youth are actively encouraged to participate in a diverse range of sports from a tender age, fostering a culture of physical activity and well-being.

The Evolution of Lifestyle

The evolution of Japanese lifestyle is also evident in the transition from traditional practices to Western influences. While generations past would sit on rice-straw mats for centuries, today’s Japanese populace has embraced Western-style seating, such as chairs and beds. This shift has relieved the constant pressure on the knees experienced by Japanese children, potentially contributing to their increased stature over time.

In summary, Japan’s societal changes have not only affected eating habits but also the approach to health and lifestyle. As the nation adapts to a rapidly evolving world, it is fascinating to observe the interplay between tradition and modernity in shaping the lives of its people.

In a nutshell,

One cannot help but notice the remarkable surge in average height among both men and women in Japan. While it may still fall short of the heights seen in Western nations, it is undeniable that Japan’s stature has seen a significant upward trajectory over the past century. This transformation can be attributed to a myriad of factors, including extensive campaigns and sweeping societal changes within the nation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the average height in Japan compare to the global average?

Compared to the global average, the average height in Japan is relatively shorter. However, it’s important to note that height can vary significantly across different countries and regions due to various factors, including genetics, nutrition, and overall health.

Has the average height of Japanese people changed over time?

Yes, the average height of Japanese people has seen significant changes over the past century. During the early 20th century, Japanese individuals were generally shorter in stature. However, with improvements in living conditions, healthcare, and nutrition, there has been a noticeable increase in average height over time.

Are Japanese people getting taller or shorter?

In general, Japanese people have been getting taller over the years. This can be attributed to factors such as improved healthcare, access to better nutrition, and overall improvements in living standards. However, it’s important to remember that there can be variations within different age groups and regions.

How does the average height in Japan compare to other Asian countries?

The average height in Japan is relatively shorter compared to some other Asian countries, particularly those in Central Asia like Korea and China. However, it’s important to note that height can vary within populations, and there can be overlaps between different countries.

Why do people in Japan worry about their height?

Height is a significant concern for many individuals in Japan due to societal and cultural factors. In certain contexts, taller height may be associated with perceived advantages, such as better job prospects or romantic relationships. Consequently, some people may desire to be taller, while others may feel self-conscious about being too tall.

Are there any health implications associated with height?

While height itself is not necessarily an indicator of overall health, proper growth and development during childhood and adolescence are important. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and receive adequate healthcare to ensure optimal growth and overall well-being.

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