[:en]Why are Japanese so obsessed with the V Sign?[:it]L'Ossessione delle Dita a V in Giappone[:] | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Why are Japanese So Obsessed with the V Sign?

By Yae Nov 3, 2017

This post is also available in: Italian

If you’re a foreigner who lives in Japan or have visited Japan as a tourist, have you ever seen Japanese people making V signs when they take pictures of themselves?

“Say cheeeeeeese!”  and people are smiling with right or left hands making V signs.

Of course, not every Japanese makes this sign but quite a lot does it in general. Have you ever thought about the reason why for this posing? This article will show you the background story!

1. What is the Meaning of V Sign?

V sign pose, which we call it “Peace sign” in Japanese has 2 meanings:

1. It means the “VICTORY” and V sign came from the first letter of word VICTORY.
2. It also means as “WISHING FOR PEACE” and this is why we call it in Japanese peace sign.

According to above meanings, many Japanese people make this V sign pose when they take pictures to show their friendliness.

2. What’s the Origin of V Sign?

So now we know the V sign means victory and peace but why and how this sign was made?
There are several reasons and quite complicated but please take it not too seriously but as FYI.

Reason 1: Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)

This war was started between England and France and British army used V sign to provoke French army.
The British army had great bow called “Longbow” and this had magnificent work for long flying distance and spray penetration.
When British army was taken captive by the French army, French army cut British army’s all fingers not for drawing bows forever.
To manifest against the French army, British army tried to show the cut off fingers to them and were provocative by saying “Try and do it!”

Talking about the war history is very sensitive and must be careful so please take this story as FYI.

Reason 2: The Second World War (1939-1945)

During the Second World War, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill showed this V sign indicating victory.
Also, he showed this V sign as for an eternal peace to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan after he heard of the atomic bomb drop.

Reason 3: An Anti-War Movement for Vietnam War (1960)

If you go back in 1960, there was an anti-war movement for Vietnam War in US and England.
During this activity, one of the demonstrators made piece sign posing to the press cameras as wishing for peace.
This posing made popular from that time.

According to above 3 reasons, all related to “Peace” and against the war.

3.  V Signs Shows the Different Age Group

Did you know that different age people make different ways of V signs?
It seems there are “Latest Trend” for certain different ages for making V signs such as follows:

1. People in Early Twenties

To make their faces visually smaller (desire to be a fashion model), people try to make V-signs to themselves trying to cover or hide their faces.
Trying to have modeling appearance pictures means a lot to people at this age.

2. People in Late Twenties

Same as early twenties, people try to make their faces look smaller visually and place their hands in V signs near their chins.
This posing was quite popular when they were in high school age and taking photo in the photo booth. We call it in Japanese “Print Club” and normally you can find those booths at amusement arcades.

3. People in Around Thirties

People make V signs but modestly since they are the age who started to think making V signs are little bit embarrassing.
This was related to their parents scolded them not to make V signs since it was a sign of making fool of themselves as they were in young ages.

4. People in Around Forties

Somehow people in this age forties become bold and they try to show V signs emphasizing their presence. It’s like “Here, here look!!”

If people are making V signs with both hands, it’s quite obvious that their age is around forties since it’s typical pose for this age group.

Don’t you think it’s quite interesting that there are several types of making V signs on different age levels?

4.What does V Sign mean for Other Countries?

As V sign means “Victory” or “Peace” in Japan, how about people in other countries think about this sign? Is it also the same meaning?

Unfortunately, depends on the countries, V sign pose means way far from peaceful:

In Greece: Gesture for insulting other people
In Philippine: Gesture to show having an affair
In Vietnam: Gesture as a greeting “Good Morning” or “Hello”
In Indonesia: Gesture for amazing or surprising expression

Now you know why Japanese people are making V signs while taking pictures?
It’s normal posing in Japan lately but it’s interesting to think about “WHY”

When I see the pictures of me years ago, I also see some pictures with V sign posing.
At that time, I didn’t have any intention to have this posing but did it unconsciously.
If Japanese people are making V signs in Japan is totally fine but they need to be careful if they go out for trips in other countries.