Bring back some good or bad memories


February 13, 2023

Vintage Photographs Captured Moments of Love and Courtship in Post-War Japan

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl get married, buy a house and have (on average) 2.2 children. This may have been a common story for heterosexual couples in America in the 1950s, but when LIFE dispatched John Dominis to capture love and marriage in post-war Japan, he found a landscape undergoing a significant transformation.

Before the war, most marriages in Japan were arranged by the bride’s and groom’s parents. Men and women rarely spent much time together prior to the wedding, let alone took part in anything that might qualify as “dating.” But during the Allied occupation of Japan from the end of World War II until 1952 the ubiquity of the American soldier’s courtship rituals jump-started the Westernization of love and marriage in Japan.

Whether accompanied by their visiting wives, Japanese girlfriends or prostitutes known as “pan pan girls,” American soldiers modeled the behavior they knew from home: public displays of affection and leisure time spent with women at caf├ęs, parks or the movies. And inside those movie theaters, American movies offered even more examples of Western mating rituals to a Japanese public at once hesitant and intrigued by the bold behaviors of their American counterparts.

In his photographs, Dominis captured a moment when the new had caught on, but the old had not yet been forgotten.

(Photos by John Dominis/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images; This original article was written by Eliza Berman and published on LIFE)


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10