When a tall guy bows, just be grateful he doesn’t fall over and kill someone

I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I don’t care. School’s kept me busy, and till Dec. 3rd I’m looking up excuses to write about Movember. (Donate here :]) But, there’s been a lot of talk this week about how Barack Obama bowed so deeply last week when he met the Emperor Akihito of Japan. Here’s a photo for reference.

Why am I getting in on this? Cause I think the Presidents height is confusing things.

Obama’s height is somewhere between 6’1″ and 6’2″, and without confirmation I say the whole being President things gets him into the tall club. That being said, the Emperor of Japan’s height, based off some images I found cause I just flat out can’t find his height listed anywhere., is somewhere between 5’4″ and 5’6″. I picked that number based on a screen cap from Obama’s visit and a photo of Dick Cheney (who is 5’8″ tall) that I found.

Holy crap! You mean he walked up to the Emperor standing straight? CRAZY!?!?!

From the children’s classic “The Emperor and the Dick”

After spending some time doing serious, in depth research (*COUGH* Wikipedia *COUGH*) I read up about Japanese etiquette. A slight bow is considered informal, say 15 degrees, but a bow of 30 degrees is considered formal. Going deeper than that, and by that I mean deep as hell, is considered what an inferior does in the presence of their better.

All that in mind, Mr. Obama is again, a pretty big guy. I actually practiced the bow he’s doing in an attempt to see if he really is doing a 45 degree angle, as suggested on Fox News (via the Daily Show, for me) by some angry blond lady who throws her arms around a lot. Honestly, if he was pulling off a 45 degree bend his but would be sticking out and his back would be straighter. Here’s my attempts with my roommate Kurt as my stand in for the Emperor. Kurt’s 5’8″ tall, I’m 6’7″ so it’s roughly comparable.

30 degree bend

45 degree bend

See the difference? At 30, I’m curved more and less likely to fall over. At 45, I’m sticking my but out further so I don’t lose balance, preventing an international incident by crushing the Emperor.

And if you watch the video, the Emperor is actually appears to be surprised that the President would give such a respectful bow or that he was even thoughtful enough to do so. And I can see the Emperor sway a little as if he wants to bow in return, but the man is 76 years old. I think there’s a law in Japan that you don’t have to bow to anyone, no matter who they are, after you turn 75 which sounds fair to me.

I feel like this whole thing leads back to my firm belief that everyone needs to do two years of mandatory foreign service, be it in the Peace Corps or possibly (don’t shoot me) the military , right after high school or college so that they can learn about the world’s cultures. At the very least a year abroad for college. Then maybe we can focus on important stuff and not stuff that stems from a “fear of the other”. (Thanks for that one Camille.)

One thought on “When a tall guy bows, just be grateful he doesn’t fall over and kill someone

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