What are the possible reasons why “cuteness” is still so phenomenonal in Japan?

The term cute also known as Kawaii means childlike and encompasses characteristics such as being pure, naïve, vulnerable, gentle and loveable. The allure of kawaii in Japan is universal across people of various age groups and genders. This cute culture reached a peak in the 1980s and is extremely commercialized.

One possible reason why cuteness is so predominant in Japan is that it is strongly associated with fashion in Japan. Cute style dominates the multi-media and consumer goods due to the companies’ attempts to capitalize on this cute culture. With the huge purchasing power of youths, it is not astonishing that they are targeted by the Japanese businesses as the main target consumers for this cute revolution. Cute products are modified specifically to cater to this group of consumers.

Due to constant exposure to this cute propaganda via mass media, subconsciously Japanese gradually develop a liking for the cute fashion and hence cuteness becomes popularized. With the general population preferring people with kawaii attitudes and behavior, it is not surprising that people will try to conform to this cute culture in order to be well-liked by others. Hence, it is not surprising to see Japanese youths dressing themselves up in childhood cute fashion

Due to their education system where the emphasis is placed on the group instead of an individual, children are brought up with the idea that individualism is negative and hence they tend to have rather strong solidarity within the group. It will be hard for anyone in the group to deviate unless everyone in the group chooses to change. Otherwise, others may alienate that person. Since this cute culture has already long been established since the 1980s, it will be very difficult for anyone to break out of this culture and be different without being ostracized.

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In general, Japanese adults tend to view adulthood as a very bleak period in life due to all their responsibilities and long working hours. With such bleak views, it is not surprising that most of them have a longing to return to the past when they are still children. Since Japanese cuteness idolizes childhood in relation to adulthood, people will try to immerse themselves in this culture. In order to experience travel back in time to a perfect childhood and escape from the harsh reality, Japanese adults purchase cute products to satisfy their needs.

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About the author

Nadia Petrova

I'm running this blog because I love Japanese culture, especially the art of geisha. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of becoming a geisha myself. In my spare time, I enjoy watching good anime and reading some manga.

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