Kawaii in Japanese Culture

A common word that’s often used by anime, manga, or Japanese fashion fans is “kawaii. ” For those who are unfamiliar, it generally means cute, but can sometimes refer to charming or Kawaii Shop Japan dear. Though the term usually refers to cute Japanese goods or characters, it’s gained so much popularity, that it’s become a common way to describe anything cute no matter the origin.

Though large-eyed cartoon characters, food with happy faces, and over the top displays of cute may seem out of the ordinary for many outside of Asia, it’s just a part of cute Japanese culture and is well-accepted among other Asian countries. So how integral is kawaii in Japanese culture? Just walk across the streets of Japan or view magazines or newspapers, and you’ll see how great its range really is.

From companies, organizations, cities, police stations and more, in japan, they are bound to have a cute character as their mascot. Not only that, but many of these characters, especially the ones belonging to a large corporation or organization, are given a history and personality. Take for instance, Sony’s mascot, a white cat named Toro. Toro isn’t just a soulless mascot, he or she has a birthday, likes certain foods, had dislikes, and has the wish to become human.

Many of these mascots are in super deformed design style, which is typical in Japanese animations and comics. And what exactly is super deformed? It’s a style of caricature in which characters are drawn with exaggerated proportions: big eyes, over-sized heads, tiny bodies, non-distinct limbs, big eyes, and hair that usually defies the laws of gravity. Characters that are designed like this are often the ones that receive “kawaii” as a response.

Not only is cute prevalent among cartoon characters, but also in Japanese fashion. Japan has a broad array of fashion styles, a few of which take cuteness to a completely different level. Though these styles aren’t part of the mainstream, you can often see them around the streets of Harajuku. And what styles might this be?

There’s Decora, which focuses on over the top accessorizing and bright colors such as pink and baby blue. Usually, those donning these style wears multiple hair-clips that have strawberries, desserts, and bow charms. Bright socks, funky leg warmers, and sanrio-type bags are often worn.

Another style is called sweet lolita, which focuses on pastel colors, most notably pink and baby blue. Despite what the colors suggest, this style is actually based on Victorian or Rococo fashion, and is one of the reasons that wearing petticoats is integral to the fashion. Though not greatly popular and far from being daily wear, there are brands that cater completely towards this style.

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