Feeling Small

On my first trip to Japan in 2006 I was struck by the scale of everything. While the trains for public transit and shopping areas were generally the same size as I'd seen in Canada, everything else was smaller. Occasionally this resulted in comical comparisons, like when I ordered a "regular coffee" and received what appeared to be a dixie cup-sized beverage. But, more often than not, everything was simply narrower and lower to the ground than I'd seen elsewhere. As a result, I felt taller and wider. Later, when I moved to the country and lost 30+ kilograms, these differences started to feel normal and I adjusted my expectations accordingly. These adjusted set of expectations for the size of objects is being called into question during this trip to the US, where everything seems larger to such an extent that — to my mind — I've shrunk in size since landing at Newark.

Doors are wide enough for two of me to comfortably walk through shoulder-to-shoulder. Regular-sized coffees are borderline too large to drink. The 12-foot ceilings in my low-cost hotel room are … excessive. Was this the scale I had grown up perceiving as "normal", or have objects on this side of North America been adjusted to accommodate generally larger people?

In a week's time, when I return to Japan, it will be interesting to see whether I consider portion sizes and the general size of everything to be bizarrely small or "practically sized".