If you’ve ever flicked through one of your Japanese friend’s photo albums, you will have no doubt come across a photo of them holding up the “V” fingers. You see it in anime, manga and the media. One of the questions I seem to get asked a lot, is why do Japanese people (mainly the younger generations) do this in their photos?
Blogger Danny Choo showing the “V” or “Peace sign”
There seem to be many origin stories, with no definitive answer. Even some Japanese people don’t even know what it means, or where it originated from. Some responses to the question I’ve heard range from “My parents used to do it” to simply “Everyone does this pose!”
Some people claim it originated from an American ice skater called Janet Lynn. In the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, Lynn fell half way through her free-skate show, yet calmly dusted herself off and carried on her performance with a massive grin on her face. She ended up placing third, and became a celebrity over night with the Japanese people due to her persistence and cute grin. As Lynn was a well known peace activist, she would often be shown holding up the peace sign with her fingers in many of her photos, so it’s said that Japanese people began adopting this pose in their photos too.
Janet Lynn’s 1972 performance
Others claim it comes from various celebrities and advertisements in the 1970s when it became popular to pose with the peace sign and say “PEACE!” The most notable of which came from Jun Inoue in a Nikon commercial.
Bob in front of Arashiyama, Kyoto
Some say that the “V” is nothing more than a “pose enhancer” to indicate they’re having a great time. Other “pose enhancers” may include a finger in the air (to indicate a good idea), fingers on the cheek dimples (to enhance cuteness), or fingers under the eyes (to indicate sadness)
Tomomi from Scandal showing she’s upset!
In all honesty, I don’t believe there is any one true origin to the Japanese “V” and it will forever be just one of those things that Japanese people do in their photos.
Just like in the west we have the “duck face”… *sigh*
What are your thoughts on the “V” sign? Do you strike this pose yourself in photos? Let me know in the comments!