Ever wondered why every Japanese person does the peace sign when they are having a picture taken? Hah, well me too. This is a habit that I, too, struggle to free myself from. From child to adult, a Japanese person will instinctively stick those two fingers up for a picture.
There have been quite a few discussions about this by foreigners like here and here. Most of these discussions come to the conclusion that Japanese may have seen it in American or European pictures back in the day and decided to copy the imagery to say yes for peace. That very well may have been its origin. And we all know how things can easily spread and become part of a culture. I think in the case of the older generation that do the peace sign unconsciously, that may be so. But for the younger generation (junior high and high school girls especially) I think it’s one of those things done to enhance cuteness. Ask a high school girl to make a cute pose and she’ll widen her eyes, purse her lips (or open her mouth in an anime-like cute smile gesture – see picture above) and make a peace sign. Even without a smile, the peace sign makes a person cuter and/or makes a person look like they are having a good time. And the Japanese do like their pictures. We’ve been known to go on marathon vacations taking pictures at every known picturesque spot known to man. How better to sum up the fun of the trip without a smile and a peace sign? I concur.