Translation: It’s cute, isn’t it?
The term Kawaii is Japanese for cute, but it can be considered a type of phenomenon. So many of their youth fashion styles are based on having a cute quality. At first you can look at it and think that it’s outlandish, and some of it is, but I do admire their desire to express themselves in their own ways. This sort of fashion individualism has spread to other Asian countries. A funny story to illustrate this point was when my best friend who was in Japan teaching ESL asked if I had time to meet up with her Korean friend. I said sure, and so we emailed, facebooked, and texted our way through to set up a meet. She was a really nice gal but spoke limited English and my Korean is pretty nonexistent (sometime I need to fix). But we found our way to communicate and had a good time. So much so that we decided to meet when she came back from her trip to South America. We went shopping, of course. At one point in our shopping adventure we both found something we thought was really adorable, there was a small pause as we looked up simultaneously with duplicate generous grins and squealed in the typical girly fashion, “Kawaii.” It was so funny we both started giggling, the girl in the shop thought we were funny too and started giggling also. Which proves how pervasive Kawaii is in Asian culture.
I think placing importance on your appearance has a bit to do with expressing your identity, and may not have the same negative connotations of superficiality as we may attribute to the action in North America and perhaps other countries/cultures. But secretly don’t we all want to look nice, or what we think of as nice. Don’t we believe in that Pygmalion transformation, that we change our clothes and change our destiny, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy even if it is far-fetched? I don’t think there is anything wrong with indulging in fantasy and dress-up as long as you enjoy it.
Curious about Tokyo fashion? One good blog to check out is Style from Tokyo curated by Rei Shito. That girl really loves her Tokyo style and finds the most interesting characters. She posts in Japanese and English, although it may be a literal translation but you can get the general idea I think.
Funnily enough this was supposed to a totally different post, but I just started writing and went in a different direction and ended up not being able to incorporate the original idea in. Ah well, such is my writing on some days. I guess I’ll have to try posting it again.