Last year I was lucky enough to visit Japan. One of the standout things you notice when you are there is how cute everything is. Literally everything! From the Harajuku girls on Takeshita Street with their Lolita pigtails and dolly dresses to public transport and food. Even Buddhist deities sport cute knitted bobble hats. ‘Kawaii’ the Japanese culture of cuteness is a deeply ingrained part of everyday life.
Kawaii is believed to be a response to the rigid culture of post-World War II Japan. It began in the 70’s when schoolgirls started a youth movement expressing their individuality by developing a childlike style of writing. Advertisers soon caught on and from there it became a worldwide phenomenon. Hello Kitty and Pokémon are the most stand out examples of how huge this has become.
There may be sinister sexist undertones to this sweet innocence as traditionally, women are required to be demure and submissive. In my opinion, adult women dressed as children does nothing to progress gender equality.
But there is still a lot to love about this adorable and innocent way of expressing yourself. It provides a happy gentle and harmonious escape from Japan’s famously stressful work culture and relentless rule following.
From a creative point of view, it hits the inspirational jackpot Everywhere you look, you are charmed, amused, horrified and excited. Usually all at once. Kawaii focuses on a light-hearted and charming way of communicating. Sounds good to me. I’ll take that.
Author: Sue Coghlan
Susan brings with her over 15 years of experience in graphic design, having worked in the Far East, Italy and London. Her strength lies in her ability to interpret any brief with an ideas approach. She is at ease working within a team to get the job done, as well as taking the lead and presenting to clients.