Gotoku Ji 20

Kawaii

Loveliness without frontiers

It is impossible to talk about Japan and not approaching the kawaii culture at some point.

Kawaii (可愛い) literally means "attracting fondness," "loveable." The Western translation tends to simplify the word to sump it up to "something cute." However, the concept does not necessarily encompasses physical beauty, and its meaning is a lot broader.

Kitty-chan, Sanrio company’s character, is certainly the most famous ambassador of kawaii in the world. But the "cuteness" is everywhere in Japanese daily life, and is displayed whenever possible, with:

  • Mascots, representing a region (Kumamon), a city or public services, a store (Donpen and Donko), etc.
  • Fashion, mostly women’s,
  • Countless daily details (bento, car design, etc.)

The word kawaii is usually employed to qualify everything relating to something that is graceful, innocent, and spontaneous childlike reactions, even among adults.

As an evidence of the Japanese soft power’s influence, the word is now used in English as well, even by people who have no knowledge of Japanese language!

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