Disclaimer: For those who are averse to cuteness or anything related to it, I suggest NOT reading this post. Then again, the Japanese concept of cuteness is quite interesting so you might as well go ahead and read about it. 😉
So, what is kawaii all about? It is the idea of being cute in all respects – from pop culture to entertainment to clothes to accessories. Even the big businesses in Japan make use of the concept of kawaii. It is actually a bit hard to exactly explain it but let me give you examples, which will concretize the idea.
- Pikachu, a character from Pokemon, adorns the side of three All Nippon Airways passenger jets.
- Asahi Bank used Miffy (Nijntje), a character from a Dutch series of children’s picture books, on some of its ATM and credit cards.
- Monkichi, a cute monkey character, can be found on the packaging for a line of condoms.
- All 47 prefectures have cute mascot characters
- The Japan Post “Yū-Pack” mascot is a stylized mailbox.
- The Japan Post also uses other cute mascot characters, for example, on stamps.
- Some police forces in Japan have their own moe mascots, which sometimes adorn the front of koban (police boxes).
- Hello Kitty
They do have a propensity for mascots, don’t they? Anyhow, if you ask the Japanese what they think of kawaii, you might get various reactions. A good majority, however, will tell you that it stems from the inherent peaceful and calm nature of the Japanese culture. There are some skeptics, however, who think that it is a mentality that makes for non-assertiveness.
Whichever way they think, it cannot be denied that the concept of kawaii has spread to other countries and is in fact one of the most intriguing things about the Japanese culture.