Monday, August 20, 2007


Ok. Here is a bit of trivia that Quilting Rush Aug. 10, brought up and I thought I'd mention it on my blog. Quilting Rush has been having Japanese foreign students come to stay in her home each year for the past 8 years and she wanted to know why the kids always flash the peace sign when they have their pictures taken.

I don't know, but it has been a pet peeve with me since my kids were little. All Japanese children, teenagers, adults, even the grandmas and grandpas flash their fingers and smile when they are asked to look at the camera lens. You ask them why and they don't know, it is just the pose you are supposed to make for pictures. I think it looks ridiculous and my mom would get angry with my kids whenever they would start flashing the peace sign for their pictures. Are all these kids sending out a message of peace to the world? I don't think so. There are a couple of other poses too but the peace sign is the favorite.

I checked Wikipedia yesterday to see if there was any reason for this custom and I found out that there was! It seems that Janet Lynn, the skater came to Japan in 1972 and became an instant celebrity with the media. A few years later she became a peace activist and the Japanese media who was still following her, saw her use the peace sign and broadcast it to the nation. It became popular around that time and has remained so though not many people remember Janet Lynn these days.

I have another theory though. Japanese are basically very shy people and it used to be that picture taking was only done formally and in those pictures you were never supposed to smile. Wedding pictures, passport pictures, school pictures, driver's license pictures etc. are even now taken with a serious look on the person's face. I smiled for my driver's license picture once, and had to take it again! This is truer of the older generation who don't really know what facial expression to take when a camera is pointed at them. I think the "pose" gives them something to focus on besides their expression and thus it became popular.

Whatever the reasons, I have finally trained my kids not to use fingers when I'M taking the picture but I notice Leiya still does it when she is just with her friends in a picture taking session.

How's that for trivia? This is a picture of some of the kids I taught a few years ago, and I thought I'd better to keep them anonymous for my blog. That's Leiya goofing off when she was in jr. high. Fingers anyone?


Holly said...

Hi Tanya,
I've been lurking on your blog for a few weeks - since I found you! - and have so many comments I want leave. I'm reading my way up from the beginning.

Thank you for explaining why the Japanese kids make the peace sign for pictures. My husband and I have hosted Japanese students, also, and always wondered why they did that. Now I know!

You have a really interesting blog and you make really beautiful quilts.

It's really nice to "meet" you.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

very cool post, thank you.

aless.erre said...

Hi Tanya!!!
I'm a Italian woman who like quilt.
I read your blog every day, you are so sweet!!!!
If you wont, came to see my blog and enjoy with we, italian woman, with tah Babo Natale Swap.
See you....tomorrow ;-)))

meggie said...

Once again a very interesting post Tanya! I had not noticed, but then I dont really know any Japanese people.

Marcie said...

Great answer and insight! Thanks! (Laurie Ann sent me) My daughter has a Hong Kong exchange student who does this all the time, and she can be rather shy, so that makes sense. Just like I keep my purse on my lap. :)

The Calico Cat said...

Thanks for the insight - this cracked my husband & I up when we were in Australia.... There we were in front of the monoliths on the great ocean road trying to look pleasant - it was windy... & there they were making "peace" signs... (I never realized that they were peace signs...) I think the trend may have hopped th epond, because I have seen some local (non-Asian) kids making gestures in photos, too.

Kairle said...

I had to pop over here after reading the post on Quilting Rush. I thought that was funn, too, when we had an exchange student with us a couple of years ago. I also noticed it it the pictures that my DD took while in Japan last summer. Thanks for the info!

QuiltingFitzy said...

My husband says, "Good job, and you are spot-one for your reasoning!"