Regular Feature

Greetings from the Outskirts of Kyoto vol.36

INOUE Shōichi (Director-General)
October 31, 2023

On 14 August 1945, Americans learned of their victory in the war against Japan. People spilled out on to the streets in celebration. The crowds packed city squares and avenues. There were even cases of men and women, total strangers, embracing and kissing one another. A photograph of such a scene taken in New York famously appeared on the cover of Life magazine.

That cover was a striking composition. But, precisely because it looked so striking, I always doubted its veracity. The image was surely contrived, I thought.

Twenty years ago now, I had a young girl cling to me at the Hanshin Koshien Studium. She was thrilled that the Hanshin Tigers had clinched a last-minute victory, and she shared her joy with me. The experience taught me that such things do happen in moments of celebration. It was then that I ceased to doubt the image on the cover of Life.

However, a colleague recently told me that the girl whose photograph appeared on the cover of Life had been caught unawares. The kiss had been stolen and left her upset.

This caused me recall that I too had been taken aback at first by the hug at the Hanshin Koshien Studium. In public! Nonetheless, I subsequently related the incident to friends as proof of my appeal to women. In doing so, I was, of course, pandering to old cultural norms valorizing manliness. But the news about the Life cover photograph has left me thinking.