What Does Kawaii Mean?

Kawaii culture is the Japanese culture of cuteness. The word itself has taken on a persona of “cute”, “lovable” and “adorable”, and has evolved to mean someone or something with no negative traits. It describes the culture of celebrating all things HARMLESS as well as embracing fictional characters as the embodiment of positivity.

Style Kawaii

Kawaii style is a fashion subculture in Japan. Japanese fashion trends are recognised worldwide, with cosplay and anime culture being the hallmark of the modern Japanese lifestyle. It is hugely popular in Japanese popular culture to dress up and portray anime and manga characters.

Looking kawaii is a huge part of everyday life in Japan and so different from what we experience in the US or Europe. The full kawaii outfit style will include work on the nails, makeup, clothing, hairstyles, bags, accessories to get the complete look perfect.

Kawaii Aesthetic

On social media, the kawaii aesthetic thrives. From Tumblr, Instagram, Tiktok to Pinterest, there are many genres of cuteness: guro-kawaii (grotesque cute), ero-kawaii (erotic cute), kimo-kawaii (creepy cute) and busu-kawaii (ugly cute). Learn the different types of kawaii aesthetics HERE.

Kawaii Room

Japan is famous for its gaming industry, and most games have a kawaii element to them. Many anime friends and gamers use these cute elements to decorate their kawaii gaming room, bedroom and other kawaii rooms in the home.

Kawaii Animals

All Japanese companies and prefectures have a kawaii animal as mascot; usually, a cute animal- similar to an anime character comes to life. Museums, schools, prisons and even the military have them too!

Individuals have kawaii animals as mascots too, think famous characters such as Hello Kitty, Sanrio, Pusheen, Rilakkuma, Gudetama, Pikachu etc.

Kawaii Food

The cute culture has even made its way into food. With cute and bright packaging for marketing, or adorable faces on the food, kawaii everyday snacks managed to add an element of cuteness and affection to everything!

A popular social media trend includes turning basic packed lunches of staple foods like rice, fish, meat and vegetables, into cute works of art. There are two distinct styles of bento box: the kyaraben and oekakiben. 

  • The kyaraben, or character bento boxes are designed with people, animals and characters from popular media. 
  • The oekakiben bento, or picture bento, is designed to look like animals, buildings, landscapes and scenes.

You can even find a quirky cafe culture in Japan, to say the least. From kawaii cat cafes to monster cafes, to character cafes, to anime girl maid cafes, there is bound to be a cute themed cafe in Japan that suits you!

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