It’s so cute: all about Japan’s kawaii culture

12 May 2017 in Have Fun

Japan’s fascination with “cuteness” has become a worldwide trend. But what exactly is kawaii? And what are the wackiest ways to be kawaii?

kawaii-face

Often translated as “cute”, the Japanese concept of kawaii has been adopted all over the world. It even has an entry in the Oxford English dictionary.

Kawaii actually describes something that is simultaneously adorable, innocent and childlike. Many people trace today’s kawaii culture back to the 1970s when a new style of handwriting was developed by teenage girls, who wrote vertically on the page and added Western letters and cute pictures of hearts and stars to the traditional Japanese symbols.

Kawaii drawings

Today, kawaii covers everything from fashion and food to comics and cafés. Want to dress kawaii? Try the Lolita look by combining Victorian ruffles with frilly petticoats and large ribbons. Like to eat kawaii?

Cute looking bento

Treat yourself to a kyaraben lunchbox, where food is arranged to look like a cute animal or cartoon character.

Japanese town mascots

Heading to a new town? Look out for the yuru-chara, the cute-looking mascot used to promote cities and regions, as well as companies and events.

What’s more, kawaii exists in a whole range of genres. There’s guro-kawaii (grotesque kawaii) that gives cuteness a disturbing twist, ero-kawaii (erotic kawaii) that sexes up cuteness, and even busu-kawaii (ugly kawaii), cuteness that makes you want to say “poor thing”.

Tokyo’s Harajuku district

One of the best places to sample kawaii culture is Tokyo’s Harajuku district, a short subway ride from HOSHINOYA Tokyo.

Takeshita in Tokyo

Take a trip here to stock up on Lolita fashion items, get your photo taken in a purikura, or peruse the stores for kawaii souvenirs.

Kawaii store Harajuku

As you’ll see, there’s much more to kawaii than Pokémon and Hello Kitty!

Photo credits:

Haruko Kishi / CC BY-NC-ND
HAMACHI! / CC BY-NC-ND
yojolene / CC BY-NC
luckysundae / CC BY-SA

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