The Average Height In Japan And The World

Have you ever wondered what the average height in Japan is? How tall are Japanese people? Are they getting taller or shorter? In fact, not many people are talking about it much, but most worry about their height. Some might want to be taller, while others reckon they are too tall.

In Japan, concerns about height are a reality. Although the Japanese are shorter than Westerners and people from Central Asia like Korea and China, their height has remarkably changed over the past century.

Are Japanese people short?

Yes, in the past. Japanese people were among the group of short people in the world. The mean height for Japanese males was about 5 feet 2 inches (160.3 centimeters), while the mean height for Japanese females was about 4 feet 9 inches (148.9 centimeters).


As we found, East Asians have a shorter frame due to a unique gene, called high-mobility group AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) [1]. Also, the corollary of World War II resulted in a vast change in the physical and mental life of the Japanese. That is the reason Japanese people were called “short” for 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!

Country The average height of men The average height of women
Latvia 5 feet 11 ½ inches (181.2 centimeters) 5 feet 6 ½ inches (168.8 centimeters)
Netherlands 5 feet 11 ½ inches (181.2 centimeters) 5 feet 6 ½ inches (168.5 centimeters)
Denmark 5 feet 11 inches (180.4 centimeters) 5 feet 6 inches (167.2 centimeters)
Poland 5 feet 10 ½ inches (178.7 centimeters) 5 feet 5 inches (165.1 centimeters)
Germany 5 feet 10 inches (178 centimeters) 5 feet 5 inches (165 centimeters)
Australia 5 feet 9 inches (175.6 centimeters) 5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.8 centimeters)
United States 5 feet 9 inches (175.3 centimeters) 5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.3 centimeters)
Spain 5 feet 8 ½ inches (174 centimeters) 5 feet 4 inches (163 centimeters)
South Korea 5 feet 8 ½ inches (174.6 centimeters) 5 feet 3 ½ inches (161.5 centimeters)
China 5 feet 6 inches (167.1 centimeters) 5 feet 1 ½ inch (155.8 centimeters)
Thailand 5 feet 4 ½ inches (163.7 centimeters) 5 feet ½ inches (153.7 centimeters)
Peru 5 feet 4 ½ inches (164 centimeters) 4 feet 11 ½ inches (151 centimeters)

What affects height in Japan?

Although the Japanese are shorter than most Westerners on average, they have gotten taller in less than a century. What made this surge? Some of the factors are listed below.


If parents are tall, good chances are that their children might be as well. That is because genes play one of the most necessary roles in determining the height of a person.

Many Japanese women married the U.S. troops who settled in Japan after World War II. That is why many “hybrid” kids were born, and that affected the height of Japanese people in the future.


Diet or nutrition is the next factor that is highly responsible for height. Having proper and suitable nutrition at an early age and during their growing years might affect the children’s growth, including physical and mental health.

So, what do the Japanese do to improve their nutrition?

The Japanese government started a campaign, called the “Milk Plan.” Milk was added to the meals in school between the 1950s and 1960s. The most important aim of this plan was to enhance the health of the people after the war. Until now, Japanese students drink milk as well as use other kinds of dairy products. The consumption of milk is less than in America and Europe though. In addition to milk, the Japanese started adding pork and beef to every diet to increase protein intake. And this nutrient is necessary for muscle and bone growth.

Another interesting thing about the Japanese diet is that they often consume fish and natto. While natto is a traditional and nutritious food for enhancing bone health and immunity, fish has a rich source of nutrients needed for height growth.

The traditional Japanese breakfast with rice, seaweed, soybean-paste soup, and pickled vegetables has been replaced by a westernized menu with toast, scrambled eggs, cereals, and tossed salads in some families. This is common since many hotels in Japan offer both Japanese and Western breakfasts.


Eating habits

Rapid westernization has remarkably changed Japanese eating habits. Instead of eating the traditional lunch of rice balls, many people queue up in front of fast food stores or convenience stores. You also see delivery men carrying pizzas or hamburgers aside from rice and noodle dishes.

Dietary supplements

Japan’s dietary supplement industry has a short history since they were not widely recognized until the early 1990s. But now, Japan is the world’s third-largest dietary supplements market. Nearly 70% of the Japanese use vitamins and supplements in their daily life.

Physical activities

Getting a proper exercise routine coupled with good nutrition might help release growth hormones necessary for height increase.

Radio Taiso is a radio exercise, which was launched by the Japanese government in 1982. Like the “Milk Plan,” this campaign was popular, especially among kids and the elderly. Besides, Japanese children are encouraged to engage in a variety of sports from an early age.


If Japanese people sat on rice-straw mats for centuries, they have now changed to Western styles, like sitting on chairs or lying on beds. Over time, this has stopped the constant pressure on the knees of Japanese kids, making them get taller and taller.

In summary

It is easy to recognize that the average height in Japan for both men and women has remarkably increased. Although this number is shorter than in Western countries, it has remarkably increased over the last century. And that depends on many different campaigns and changes in this country.

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