Posts Tagged ‘photos’

As a Japanologist (hah!) I get asked a lot of questions by friends and family about Japanese life and culture, ranging from relatively simple topics to the obscure. However the question I get asked more often than anything else is “Why do Japanese people always make the V-sign in photographs?”. One cousin even enquired as to whether it is some kind of Churchill-envy. Today I will put this great mystery to rest for those of you who have always wondered.

Most people think that it has something to do with being a symbol of peace/victory, but in actual fact it is a rather old fashioned dating device. Over 100 years ago it was used as a secret signal to members of the opposite sex who could be considered partners for marriage. Since a face-to-face conversation with a stranger in the street would be far too forward, a simple flash of the signal would show interest in that person and allow for arrangements to be made for private discussions, inevitably leading to marriage. Since then, with the invention of the camera and demise of arranged marriages single people use it as a pose in photographs to indicate their single status. Whilst this might seem embarrassing, it means singletons can more successfully pick and choose prospective partners from looking at friends’ photographs. If you see a cute guy/girl making the sign in your friends’ photograph then arrangements can be made for a not-quite-so-blind blind-date. So, be careful about making the V-sign when having your photograph taken in Japan!

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Life in Nagoya is very laid back compared to London – it seems like there are always people around, but they don’t rush in the same way that Londoners do. Even in Sakae (the heart of Nagoya where we all hang out, go shopping etc) the piped music makes it feel like toy-town or Disneyland! (It certainly solves the problem of ASBO kids playing music on their mobile phones!)

This weekend I went to Sakae with a girl I met at a welcome party (so many welcome parties!) and we went for tea and cake, and purikura. Purikura is a kind of photobooth where you take between 5-8 photos with various backgrounds and you can then pick the ones you like and decorate them with writing, glitter, stars, and other images. You then get a sheet of them printed out on sticker paper so you can decorate folders/files etc with them. Ive done a few before but late at night when they are pretty quiet. So it was a great surprise to see the purikura room at its fullest. Matching outfits, fancy dress… I saw two girls dressed exactly the same in Pikachu outfits (from Pokemon). This is no simple pastime – this is a serious endevour! We did some and you can get them sent to your phone so here they are:



I also went to Nagoya Castle which was really nice, worth a visit. Hopefully going to do some more sight seeing next weekend too. So much to do and see!

My only gripe so far: I never thought I would say this but I am really missing vegetables and Im almost sick of meat, ramen and yaki soba! Vegetables are really expensive here – ¥260 (GBP 1.50) for ONE courgette!! Not really sure why, but apparently all vegetables are all organic and produced in small quantities due to the lack of space. On the other hand, a portion of fresh noodles are 15p so hopefully all the maths will work itself out!!

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