What Is Kawaii? Find out why it’s taking over the world.

Kawaii, kah-wai-ee, kaway-ee, kuh-why – many different ways to say it. It is a Japanese word that can mean everything from “cute” to “pampered.”

Kawaii’s significance has become more than just an aesthetic style; kawaii is a lifestyle. That widespread cuteness culture permeates all ages and genders to create a radically different world from what we know as conventional reality. In fact, kawaii refers to the general phenomenon where everything around us has been enlivened by being cute or kawaii; kawaii has become a ‘super-genre,’ the umbrella concept encompassing every manifestation of kawaii.

No matter how kawaii manifests itself, it has one purpose: to make you feel good!


Kawaii Culture

Kawaii is a state of mind best described as “cute.” It’s popular all over Japan, but it began in the 1970s as a type of self-help for women coming into their own political and economic beings. The term kawaii evolved from an expression about feelings (“kawayui” — similar to happy or glad) to expressing attitudes and behaviors ranging from child-like innocence on up. Kawaii means cute, lovely, charming, and innocent and is used more often than any other word to describe cute girls and things that are pretty.

This culture of cuteness has exploded since then. All sorts of foods, clothes, games, music, and icons are now considered kawaii. It comprises different cute things such as a teddy bear or popular brands like Hello Kitty, Sailormoon, and Rilakkuma. The cuter they are, the more kawaii they are. It’s all kind of intense when you’re around it all the time, but once in a while, it’s cute.

What Is Kawaii - Hello Kitty

While kawaii has been a popular concept for quite some time now in America, kawaii has become an even stronger force among Japanese pop culture. In today’s modern society, kawaii is most widely associated with cute and adorable objects or characters for children or young people. It can be found not only in Japan but all over the world.

Why Do Japanese Like Kawaii?

The kawaii culture of Japan is one of the most interesting, though underrated, trends. People have been adapting kawaii since this trend became popular, so it’s likely something incredibly special to Japan as a country. Japanese people are known to be reserved, but kawaii is what gives them their emotions. Kawaii triggers feelings that the Japanese usually don’t express. It also helps bring out their more child-like side. They like kawaii things because it makes them feel young again.

It makes sense why kawaii is so popular with the Japanese because kawaii means “involving cuteness” or “cute.” It allowed people to feel good about themselves even if they felt bad about their environment. This culture has permeated every aspect of Japanese society. Their fashion, food, toys, interior decoration, karaoke rooms, and karaoke boxes are reflected in their fashion. This is a popular culture that makes the world want to have Hello Kitty goods and more.

Along with this cultural style, Japanese companies or internet communities also embrace this big business by having their mascots. As kawaii style becomes more popular, kawaii mascots are gaining popularity. That’s why kawaii mascot designing is one of the most popular services in Japan now. Many companies are asking for professional kawaii mascot designers to make their kawaii mascots cute and fluffy like how kawaii characters should be.

Kawaii Everywhere

The word kawaii can apply to anything endearing and charming and things that are adorable in appearance. Kawaii is often used in reference to kitty cats and puppies, but kawaii can also refer to drawings or artwork of cute anime-style characters. Japanese kawaii culture has been incorporated into many aspects of life, including food, fashion, literature, and entertainment, with the original meaning of kawaii being used all over Japan for anything cute.

Kawaii has become a global cultural phenomenon influencing non-Japanese people as well. Kawaii products are now available worldwide, including lots of kawaii stuff online.


In the kawaii food world, kawaii may refer to a type of decoration on a dish. Kawaii food designs are simple and cute designs that make a meal more fun to eat! Each kawaii design is unique to the character it’s supposed to be. For example, the ice cream is in a kitty cone and decorated with kitty ears and kitty paws. The ramen has kitty whiskers on it! Kawaii food designs are simple, but they make every meal more fun!

Kawaii fashion is the cutest type of fashion! It is an adorable style of clothing that makes you feel so happy and pretty to wear. Kawaii makes you happy, cheerful, and full of color, boosting your mood. There are plenty of kawaii clothes, bags, and accessories to match. Kawaii fashion is also often used in cosplaying (dressing up as kawaii anime characters).

One popular kawaii clothing is Lolita fashion. This Japanese fashion originates from the ‘Elegant Gothic Lolita’ subculture. This subculture is characterized by its Victorian style, including kimono-like dresses, ankle boots with laces, petticoats, and intricate accessories.

What Is Kawaii - Fashion


Anime is, for the most part, Japanese art animation. Kawaii anime describes shows with cute and adorable characters using kawaii art styles, settings, dialogue, and music. Kawaii characters usually have big, round eyes, small noses, small mouths and are drawn in a kawaii way. They are very adorable, sweet, cute characters with innocent personalities that appear in other genres like mystery and fantasy.


Kawaii stationery is any kind of stationery (like notebooks, pencil cases) with kawaii or cute characters. Unsurprisingly, kawaii stationery is abundant in Japan: kawaii pens, pencils, notebooks.

The cover or pages in notebooks are filled with cute elements or adorned with colorful and funny drawings that you can use as diaries or jot down ideas. These kawaii notebooks come in different sizes and shapes, perfect for your cute handwriting. For example, some kawaii notebooks come with plastic covers while others come with leather or cloth covers. Some kawaii stationeries like kawaii pencil cases also include rubber charms for decoration or stationery organizers.

Stuffed Animals

Kawaii plushies are small plush toys with big round eyes and many kawaii features. These kawaii soft toys come in all shapes and sizes, from big kitty cats to little keychain kawaii. The kawaii creatures are really cute because of their features. They have round eyes, small noses, and funny ears on top of their head. Maybe they have a bow or two on their body to make them more kawaii! They come in all sorts of colors, cute animals, and species, and they’re really popular among kawaii fans.

Alternatively, some squishies can be very relaxing, and they’re great for relieving stress and boredom. Kawaii squishies are also known as squeeze toys. They come in various shapes and forms, but kawaii squishies mainly come in the form of animals and food items.

Kawaii Art

Kawaii art is basically art that’s cute. The kawaii drawing style tends to have pastel colors with rounded shapes, big eyes, and false eyelashes. Many kawaii artists are inspired by anime, video games, science fiction, fantasy, pop culture, nature, or other things that they find kawaii. Kawaii drawing can be easy if you allow yourself the chance to experiment with some new kawaii techniques.

Many people think of kawaii as a lighthearted form of art that only features happy smiling faces with big eyes and adorable outfits. While kawaii can be cute in this way, many kawaii characters wear dark clothing and have haunting kawaii features but may still appear creepy cute, or ugly cute.

Kawaii Impact

Kawaii enables people to escape reality into a wonderland of happiness and smiles where all kawaiiness is welcome. If you are sad, kawaii will make you happy again. If you are feeling angry, kawaii will calm your fury.

The kawaii lifestyle has many benefits, including better health and wellness and bringing people together. People like kawaii things because they change their minds or moods when they see them.

What Is Kawaii - Expression

1)  You get the chance to express yourself more easily.

Since kawaii stuff is so cute and bubbly by nature, it gives you ample opportunity to draw more attention towards yourself without trying too hard. This makes it easier for people who need attention or want social interactions since they will feel that others are automatically drawn towards them when they see their kawaii stuff.

2)  You’ll feel happier!

Cute things make us happy. What’s cuter than adorable kawaii merchandise? We know we’ve been pretty happy ever since we got our kawaii stuff, and here are some inspirations to achieve that kawaii aesthetic vibe at home.

3)  You can feel a sense of accomplishment just by saving up for kawaii stuff.

It takes a lot of work and patience to save up money from something as cute as Harajuku fashion items! The feeling of accomplishing something difficult is definitely worth the effort and can give you a kawaii high.

4)  You get to meet kawaii people!

By having kawaii stuff, you tend to start hanging out with other people who enjoy the style. Kawaii is typically associated with younger age groups; however, more and more adults are embracing the style. This means you get the opportunity to meet kawaii-hearted people more easily, which adds some cuteness to your life! On top of that, kawaii makes you all look like besties anyway, so it’s like winning two birds with one stone.

What Is Kawaii - People

5)  You’ll find it easier to express yourself via kawaii items.

Kawaii has been associated with kitty stickers kitty stationery, but as the style has grown, more and more different types of characters and kawaii styles have been introduced. With the addition of all these new kawaii products, it has never been easier to express yourself with your own unique kawaii style.

6) Kawaii stuff makes you happier and more confident!

As we all know, kawaiiness is associated with kawaii-ness, which is associated with positivity. By owning kawaii stuff, it’s like you’re wrapped in happiness and, thus, the confidence level is increased too! Kawaii friends will definitely be drawn to your “kapoww” vibes.

Kawaii Tidbits

What kawaii means is a question that a lot of people ask. It turns out that kawaii means many things, and it all depends on the context where you see kawaii being used in Japan today. However, kawaii can have different connotations from what you might think kawaii represents.

Is anime the same as kawaii?

Yes and no. Anime is a style of animation originating in Japan, while kawaii refers to something cute, lovely, lovable, and charming. Both kawaii and anime are Japanese art styles, but kawaii refers to adorable things, whereas anime refers to animation. Animation comprises moving images; kawaii is for cute stationary images. Anime characters are animated, yet kawaii characters remain still.

What Is Kawaii - Anime

Is kawaii a bad word?

Most people generally consider Kawaii good, but kawaii can also make some people uncomfortable. While the word “kawaii” is often associated with cuteness and fluffiness, the term “kowai” usually describes something that is scary and creepy. Kowai also describes the feeling of being scared by something.

What does it mean to look kawaii?

Kitty ears are very popular with countries that love the kawaii look. When you make kitty ears with your fingers and say ‘kawaii!’ – that is already a good, basic example of kawaii as a description for something that looks kawaii to you.

Kawaii clothing styles include pastels, such as baby pink, sky blue, and lavender. Kawaii looks can be achieved by wearing anything from fluffy jumpers to bright tights, and of course, you have to wear something with kawaii prints on! Don’t forget your kawaii accessories, perfect for completing your overall kawaii look. Anything with cute details will do; kawaii jewelry comes in all shapes and sizes, including Hello Kitty earrings or anything with little kitties on it. Don’t forget your kitty tails either if you’re feeling extra kawaii!


Kawaii is often translated into English as “cute,” but kawaii has very different connotations than just being cute or pretty. Kawaii can be used to describe many things, including people’s behavior and situations, food, technology, clothing, you name it!

What kawaii means to one person may differ from what kawaii means to another person. That’s why kawaii is said to have no definition apart from something cute and adorable, which really is in the eye of the beholder. The cultural concept of kawaii will continue to evolve and grow as we embrace the cute!

So just what does kawaii mean? Well, kawaii means many things to different people, but its overall meaning is loveable!

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