The Japanese experience of increasing height

Half a century ago, the term “Japanese dwarf” was a commonly used descriptor, echoing the prevailing perception of the Japanese population’s relatively shorter stature. However, the sands of time have ushered in a remarkable transformation in the land of the rising sun. Over the course of a few decades, the average height of the Japanese people has undergone a remarkable ascent, culminating in an impressive gain of 10 centimeters. This newfound height has not only brought Japan into alignment with its regional counterparts but has also redefined its standing in the global height rankings, with only South Korea now surpassing them. In this exploration, we delve into the intriguing journey of how Japan achieved this extraordinary height increase, uncovering the factors and strategies that played pivotal roles in reshaping the nation’s physical stature. Welcome to an enlightening article from growtallerstrategy, where we embark on a fascinating journey through the Japanese experience of reaching new heights

The Japanese and the changes in height

In Japan, height holds not only individual significance but also serves as a matter of national pride. Despite their reluctance to embrace the label of “Japanese short,” the Japanese had to accept it as a reflection of their height during that period.

According to records compiled by the New York Times since 1950, the average height of Japanese men was a modest 150cm, while Japanese women stood at 149cm. In comparison, Vietnamese men averaged 154cm and women 151cm in height.

However, looking back after 60 years, Japan has undergone a remarkable transformation, with the average height of men increasing to 172cm and women reaching 158cm. Meanwhile, Vietnam, which already had a height advantage over Japan, saw men averaging 165cm and women 154cm (data from 2014).

The story of Japan’s successful “dwarf escape” has captivated the media, and scientists have tirelessly researched and analyzed the reasons behind this remarkable change. Experts attribute Japan’s height improvement to a combination of scientific nutrition, balanced exercise, and adequate rest.

Japanese height increase menu

The Japanese place special emphasis on their meals, focusing on sophisticated food preparation and nutritional balance in their daily menus. Since the 1950s, Japan has prioritized nutrition care for children from the prenatal stage to the age of 5. Consequently, young people in their 20s in Japan during the 1980s were significantly taller than the previous generation.

A typical Japanese meal usually consists of steamed rice, miso soup, pumpkin stewed with soy sauce, pickled baby cucumber, egg roll, grilled salmon, and the indispensable natto soybean dish. These foods are rich in vitamins, calcium, and minerals, which effectively contribute to height improvement. Generally, Japanese meals feature a variety of dishes but in smaller quantities.

The nutritional components in each meal are carefully balanced, as demonstrated by the “Japanese Food Guide Spinning” model. All foods are divided into several groups, with recommended daily serving sizes for each group. The foundation of this diet includes 5-7 servings of whole grains, 5-6 servings of green vegetables, 3-5 servings of meat and fish dishes, and finally, 1 serving each of milk and fruit. Each serving is approximately 70g of food.

Additionally, the Japanese government implements a “milk drinking time” at 10:00 a.m. every day for preschool to middle school students. Mothers who are pregnant or taking care of young children are encouraged to attend free classes on baby care and preparing balanced and nutritious meals.

Japanese exercises to increase height

After the end of World War II, Japan set a goal to increase the time dedicated to physical education. The availability of gymnasiums, stadiums, and sports fields in schools significantly expanded as well.

Apart from physical education classes at school, a considerable percentage of high school students engage in sports on a daily basis, with 55.6% of girls and 80.5% of boys participating. Additionally, from infancy, Japanese mothers encourage daily physical activity for their children, including waving their arms, kicking their feet, practicing rolling, crawling, and providing massages. Physical activity at this early stage promotes improved blood circulation, increased secretion of growth hormones, and contributes to better height development.

Once children reach the age of 3 and older, Japanese mothers often instill the habit of participating in sports that effectively enhance height, such as swimming, cycling, basketball, football, and other activities based on the child’s interests. Regular outdoor exercise also facilitates the absorption of vitamin D from natural sunlight, further strengthening bones and promoting overall growth.

Some types of milk support the best height increase

Milk plays a crucial role in supporting height increase, and the Japanese place great emphasis on including milk and milk-based beverages in their daily diet to enhance children’s height.

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is a primary source of calcium-rich foods and plays a vital role in promoting height growth. It not only provides essential nutrients but also contributes to bone strength due to its high calcium content.

Moreover, whole cow’s milk contains complete proteins, which directly benefit the human body in energy production and growth. The protein in milk is assimilated into the body more efficiently and at a faster rate than protein from meat.

This is why regular consumption of fresh milk is recommended for children, as it significantly contributes to their physical and intellectual growth and development.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is not only a nutritious and healthy beverage but also effectively promotes height increase. Drinking soy milk offers various benefits, including the addition of fiber, antioxidants, and support for the bone system, particularly in height enhancement.

According to Meagan Bridges Durkin, a nutritionist at the University of Virginia, unsweetened soy milk has similar nutritional value to cow’s milk. A cup of 240ml unsweetened soy milk contains approximately 90 calories, 4.5g of fat, 8g of protein, and 5g of carbohydrates.


Yogurt is rich in calcium, protein, fat, potassium, phosphorus, and significant amounts of vitamins A, D, and E, making it highly beneficial for height development. Additionally, yogurt provides ample Vitamin D and a sufficient amount of lactose, which aids the body in optimal calcium absorption.

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