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.


If you’ve been to a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, or an Asian-run supermarket or store, you’ve probably noticed a cat statue perched easily by the cash register. It is a lucky cat, called Maneki-Neko, a very popular icon among Japanese and Chinese cultures. This graceful talisman is thought to be a good luck charm and can attract prosperity, happiness and wealth for its owners. Hence, it is a very common item in shops, restaurants and other businesses run by Chinese or Japanese.
The fortune cat, known as Maneki Neko, is a term that in Japan means “the pointing cat”. Typically this cat has a raised paw as if it were indicating or calling luck for its owners. Others call the Maneki Neko the “money cat” and the “welcome cat”. Nessuno sa con precisione come è apparso il primo Maneki Neko. Tuttavia, la maggior parte dei giapponesi è d’accordo sul fatto che “il gatto della fortuna” ha avuto origine durante il periodo Edo, tra il XVII secolo e la metà del XIX secolo.
There are a couple of popular legends about the origins of the “Cat of Fortune”. One tells of a rich man who took refuge from a storm under a tree near a temple, where he noticed a cat that seemed to call him, then followed him into the temple. Shortly thereafter, lightning struck the tree, and because the cat had saved his life, the man was so grateful that he became a benefactor of the temple, bringing prosperity and wealth. When he died, a cat-shaped statue was built in his honor. Another legend tells of a geisha who had a cat. One day, while he was wearing his kimono, the cat tugged and ripped the dress. The owner of the brothel then assumed that the cat was possessed by evil spirits, and cut off its head with a sword. The cat’s head rolled onto a snake that was about to bite the girl, and its fangs killed the snake, saving the woman. The geisha was so saddened by the death of her beloved cat that one of her clients had a statue built in honor of the cat to make her happy.
In reality, the raised leg of the “fortune cat” has a meaning. If the raised paw is the left, the talisman becomes propitious for attracting new customers. If the raised paw is the right, it indicates luck, happiness and money. Precisely for this reason, sometimes, you can find lucky cats with both paws raised. Two raised paws can indicate also protection.
Although it is white, with orange and black spots, the most common color of the Maneki Neko, there can be statuettes of different colors, and each one has a special meaning. Calico: it is the preservation of the traditional colors, and considered the most fortunate White: happiness, purity and positive news that must arrive Golden: wealth and prosperity Black – wards off and chases away evil spirits Red – success in love and relationships Green – good health
The Maneki Neko is a finely dressed cat adorned with a bib, a collar and a bell. In the Edo period, it was common for rich people to dress their cats in this way; a bell was tied to the collar so that they could be identified more easily. A Maneki Neko can be adorned with other small symbols that bring good luck:
Koban: is an ancient Japanese coin from the Edo period. A ryo was considered a fortune in those days.
The magic wizard of money: if you see a small hammer, it represents wealth.
If shaken, the mallet should bring wealth and prosperity.
A fish (most likely a carp): the fish is a symbol of abundance and luck.
A gem: it is another propitiator of money.


Japan has always fascinated me. A vision of the world so far removed from that of the West, the contrast between discreet and refined voices and feelings, against rigor and absolute respect for honor. The figure of the Geisha and the world of the Samurai.
How is the kimono made? Women’s dresses are made up of at least 15 parts, each with a name that describes it (outer, inner, over and under collar lining, sleeve hole and drape, etc.). The dressing starts from the first layer, in contact with the skin (in the demonstration the models remained dressed), to continue with different layers as the quality and uniqueness of the kimono increases. In the demonstration, the girls were swaddled with meters and meters of fabric, every time they wore a layer I thought it was the last, but the dressing still continued. Even the middle layers (linings and petticoats) are of fine fabric, with refined decorations and colors.
The kimono is the traditional Japanese dress, both for men and women. There are long lists of names that define different types of kimonos, more or less valuable, according to the use and the category of people who wore them: formal for married women, business dress, with a decorated motif (which gives the name to the type of dress), or in common fabric to go to the spa, to practice martial arts or the art of entertainment of the Geisha.
Although the kimono is a distinctly Japanese form of clothing, its roots are said to be from China. The earliest form of kimono was worn as a type of underwear, gaining popularity in Japan during the Muromachi period (1392-1573), when they began to be worn without hakama (traditional Japanese pants) and paired with a shaft called an obi. Since the Edo period (1603-1867) the kimono as we know it today has truly become part of Japanese costumes, with an ever-increasing variety of colors, fabrics and styles available. The obi has become wider and the length of the sleeves has grown. The kimono is worn by women or girls and by men

There are several elements involved when wearing a kimono. To understand a kimono, it is important to know the pieces that make it up, here are some of the main parts that make up a kimono:
Kimono – is the main garment, which can be made from a variety of materials including, cotton, linen, wool and silk.

Obi – the outermost belt tied to a kimono. The knot can be tied in a variety of decorative ways.

Juban – A type of underwear specifically used with kimonos.

Koshi-himo – the belt tied around the waist to secure the kimono in place.

Datejime – A belt attached to the kimono, but under the obi, which helps obi maintain shape.

Tabi – Socks specially designed to be worn with traditional Japanese footwear.
The foot area is divided into two sections.

Geta, Zori – These are some of the traditional types of footwear worn with kimonos. They look a bit like modern sandals.
Types of Kimono

Furisode – This is the type of kimono worn by young unmarried women and girls. It is distinguishable by the long sleeves and in bright colors. Furisode is the typical kimono worn during the Japan Age Day (‘Seijin no Hi’).

Tomesode – A formal kimono that is worn by women who are married. It can be decorated in intricate crests and patterns, however these decorations are typically found below the waist. Mothers traditionally wear a black tomesode at their child’s wedding. There are also colorful tomesodes, which are sometimes worn by single women on special occasions. ·

Houmongi – literally meaning “to dress kimono”, a houmongi is a type of kimono suitable for any age and marital status. You can identify this kimono with the patterns that run over the shoulders and bottom. This type of kimono can be worn to attend wedding or tea ceremonies.

Yukata – the type of kimono most often seen in Japanese summer festivals. Yukata are made of thin material and suitable for both women and men. However, men’s yukatas are not as colorful as those worn by women.

Komon – Another type of casual kimono. A comone is usually decorated in a repeating pattern. The comone is perfect, everyday casual, as it was the common everyday dress in the days before western clothing became standard wear.

Iromuji – A solid color kimono worn by married and unmarried women. Iromuji can be in any color with the exception of white or black, however, they are in rather muted tones. They can also be decorated with crests – the more crests there are, the more formal the kimono is. This is a simple yet sophisticated kimono.
Over the course of history the kimono has had more or less fortunate periods, remaining, however, a latent reference in patient waiting for a gust of wind or style to bring it back on the catwalks and in our wardrobes. From Poiret to Yamamoto, from Galliano to Saint Laurent, from Thom Browne to J.W. Anderson, no designer has been able to ignore its charm by proposing it, each in its own way, even in recent seasons. Despite being very current and loved by stars like Florence Welch and Beyoncé, who, still pregnant with twins, wore a Gucci one to a basketball game, this pivotal piece of Japanese costume has a very ancient history.

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