Japan's Cute Kids and Culture of Cute

I haven’t been everywhere (yet), but I’m already convinced that Japanese kids are the cutest kids in the world. It must be the combination of their doll-like faces and the adorable outfits their parents put them in. On the crowded streets of Tokyo, so many passed by me before I had the chance to snap a photo, but here are a few…

Before long, you start to notice the cute aesthetic is everywhere.

It extends to teen and adult fashion, signage and advertising, toys and animation, food, behaviors, and more. The term for it in Japan is “kawaii.” Companies use cute mascots to promote products and services. Posters in the subway and signs around the city incorporate cute visuals to communicate various messages.

The Japanese obsession with icons like Pokemon and Hello Kitty is actually rooted in cultural tradition. Some suggest that Japan's brutal defeat in World War II bred this mentality, viewing it as the only way to explain how the warrior culture of Imperial Japan did a complete 180° in just a couple of generations. The growing trend of Asian women getting surgery to make their eyes bigger is not only to look more Western, but to create that wide-eyed doll-like look.

While there is a cuteness to the outward look of modern Japanese culture, there is also a depth and richness of tradition, art and history. This is just one aspect we observed of a fascinating culture.