Japanese people giving the "peace" sign in photos

Seems like whenever I see Japanese folks having their photo taken, whether in Japan or anywhere else, they frequently hold up the V for Victory, or what we in the US used to call the “Peace” sign, even very young kids. I of course admire and agree with the sentiment, but was just wondering if there was any particular reason they seem to do this when having their picture taken. I thought maybe the trauma of Hiroshima/Nagasaki has imbued the culture with an antiwar mentality, perhaps, which would be perfectly understandable, but alot of countries have experienced the horrors of war, and their citizens don’t so uniformly flash the peace sign.
Anyway, just curious, thanks for any insights! :slight_smile:

Wikipedia has something to say on the subject though it looks like the origin is uncertain.

I think it’s probably the same thing as Westerners smiling in photos: nobody knows when, where, or how it started, but now it’s a cultural tradition so people are expected to do it whether they want to or not.

Because my search skills suck I’ll leave it to you but there was an earlier thread on this that shed some light on it as I remember.

Here and here are earlier threads on the subject.

It is not just Japanese. My daughter’s best friend is half-Korean and half-White American (raised in America, mainly by her white Dad), and she always does it.

It’s universal in East Asia, and it doesn’t have any particular widely-known significance beyond “Hey, I’m getting my picture taken.”

The way many East Asians approach photographs is a little different than the way we do. You rarely see candid shots or scenic images in a Chinese photo album, and you will see a lot more self portraits and staged shots. If I had to WAG, I’d say it’s because these are more outwardly formal cultures that are very concerned with how they present themselves with others. Image is a big deal and being casually cool hasn’t caught on. There is also a bit of an attitude that every context has a specific set of actions that ought to go with them, which is why you see so many Japanese tour groups where everyone is wearing absurdly typical “safari” clothes even though they are simply travelling to Disneyland.

So I’d venture that throwing the peace sign is a way to say “Hey, I’m not some loser who just walks around doing whatever and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I’m getting my photo taken, so I’m going to do the thing that people do when they get their photo taken.” It’s a quick and easy way for people to bring an element of formality and “proper conduct” into an otherwise informal snapshot.

I vaguely recall reading it’s become less trendy among Japanese to flash this sign upon being photographed, but I very well could be totally full of shit.

Nah you are right, it is definitely a bit “five years ago”.

There is also the sideways V. No clue where that came from.

It’s huge in Korea, esp. among 20- and 30-somethings. They often do a sideways V across the eye, like Adam West doing the Bat-Dance. I even see it in TV ads, so as a youth counterculture gang sign, it’s pretty worthless.

It’s not just popular among the Japanese- American weaboos do it, too.

Those death camps I’ve been mentioning? Photographic evidence of a person throwing the peace sign is all it takes for a person to be tossed in.

Deletes photos

Don’t worry. When we make an unperson out of you we’ll get around to those! Shakes fist.

Having Japanese relatives, I can attest to the “OK, even though we’re off work / on holiday, we’re doing The Correct Thing in The Proper Place at An Appropriate Time and having Just The Right Amount Of Fun!” attitude.

I like to throw up the peace sign as a hello-at-a-distance, but since I started using it in the 60’s, I actually use it as a peace sign. As in “Stop The War”.

It’s common in China, too.

Just the way it is. And yes, this is the tenth thread I’ve read on this topic(OK, now I’m exaggerating).

When I was in Japan I took maybe 200 photos of various people and places. Without fail if I was photographing a local I got the peace sign.

These are entirely mistaken

I currently live in Japan and the V is huge here, all girls do it. Guys sometimes do it, some older women do it, but (esp young) girls pretty much do it without fail anytime a camera is pointed at them.

and they hate hate HATE candid pictures, which is hilarious.

I guess some weaboos (in Japan we call them Chrisma Men) but yea, it’s definitely more of a girl thing.

The funniest is when they put the V in front of their mouths so it looks like they’re instead giving the “I lick pussy” sign

Hmm. I was just basing my statement on what I saw looking at photos over the last couple of months in Japan. There were plenty of girls giving peace signs, but there seemed to be a larger number of different hand signals and poses too, as if things have diversified. Even some fairly natural poses! Maybe it was just a small sample size.

My wife says that the trend started in the mid to late 90s. The certainly didn’t do it when she was young. Apparently someone noticed that putting you hand up there (in the peace gesture?) de-emphasizes the face size (for people concerned about having a too-broad face) and then it just caught on as a general thing to do.

But I can’t corroborate any of this. :stuck_out_tongue: