KAWAII WAY

The word kawaii is an important part of Japanese culture. In English, it translates more closely with the term cute. Kawaii is used for everything, from clothing to food, from fun to physicality; and describes something charming, vulnerable, childish or lovable.
A few years have passed since the first time I happened to realize the economic value of a design attribute that is particularly appreciated by the female public, but not only: cuteness, or being cute.
Although the literal translation of this Anglo-Saxon adjective would be simply "cute", I soon realized that that sound contains a much more complex and profound semantic universe, which arises from the ability of certain objects, certain images and certain people, to trigger in whom an irrepressible sense of tenderness looks at them.
The photo of a laughing child is cute, but a sweet expression of an adult can also be; a kitten is cute, but also an object drawn with colors and proportions that accentuate the reference to the world of children, and above all it can be a comic, a cartoon, a puppet that inspires tenderness. 
noun corresponding to this quality is kawaisa (可愛 さ) which expresses the concept of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture, of which it has become an extremely relevant aspect, both from a social, economic and political point of view and which extends to entertainment , clothing, food, toys, personal aesthetics, behavior to the point of influencing the way people move and behave, facial expressions and gestures.




Something kawaii must not only be "cute", but also small, funny, ornate, innocent, childish, generally in pastel shades or bright colors.
Among the many Japanese words that derive from the word kawaii, one of the most emblematic to grasp the concept is kawaige (可愛 げ) which can be translated as "charm of an innocent child", but for what we will discover in the next posts I would not underestimate the word kawaigaru (可愛 が る?) which means "to fall in love" or "to be enchanted".
The origin of the Japanese people's passion for cuteness is lost in the mists of time: in the year 1000 the poet Sei Shonagon wrote in her famous Pillow stories that "everything that is small is cute", while Tomoyuki Sugiyama, author of Cool Japan book, even claims that the origins of kawaii fashion can be traced back to the Edo period (1603-1867) and the taste for small objects stimulated by the popularity of netsuke, precious carved buttons that allowed small boxes to be hung on the belt (inrō ) that compensated for the lack of pockets of the kimonos, illustrious ancestors of the modern pendants that the Japanese - and not only - hang on their mobile phones.
The main protagonists of the kawaii phenomenon, however, were manga (comics), anime (cartoons) and yuru-kyara (the equivalent of the English term "character") which in addition to having made a rich contribution to the GDP of the country were rightly seen from the government of Japan as phenomenal instruments for the planetary diffusion of Japanese culture and values, neither more nor less than what the powerful Hollywood machinery was able to impose on the world scene those of the United States.
Multinational companies like Sanrio made kawaii characters and their merchandising their core business, launching characters (I understand that Sanrio has developed more than 400) that quickly began to spread even in western markets such as the famous Hello Kitty, now a cult object. for women of extremely different nationalities (and ages) and a real kitten laying golden eggs, according to data provided by the New York Times which already in 2010 quantified the turnover of Hello Kitty at 5 billion dollars (which for wikipedia amounted to in 2002 a "only" billion).
Through the model of the protagonists of the manga and anime series, the Japanese obsession with cuteness soon extended to the human physiognomy, the look, the way of behaving, especially for the female audience. The unnatural and unattainable stylistic features of the designers were embodied by successful public figures who were inspired by this style in their look and attitudes. One of the most widespread youth phenomena from the 90s to today in Japan are the so-called aidoru (ア イ ド ル) or idols: pop music idols more or less ephemeral like Seiko Matsuda, Sugaya Risako or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu who in their competition for the "most kawaii of the realm ”Humanize the features of manga and anime by repeating their coaxing and affected attitudes. The idols have freed the fatal step: that from cartoon to person in flesh and blood, demonstrating the plausibility of manga and anime as a model to imitate and reproduce in behaviors as well as in the body itself and accrediting themselves with all Japanese pop culture analysts as main catalysts of kawaii fashion in Japan.

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