Masujiro Kiru had found the photograph while looking through his father's photo album during World War II. His father had purchased the photograph from a Tianjin street photographer. While some sources say that the photo was taken in Tianjin in 1911, others stated that the photo was taken in Tiensten, Hebei Province in 1942. Some sources claim that the photographer was later identified to be an American serviceman on duty in that region, who thought the object in question was a hat. Other skeptics identify the object as a bird or a streetlight.