A big believer in universe lands up in one of the most enigmatic and intriguing countries, Japan! It happened when I decided spontaneously to leave my fancy corporate job and fly all the way with all the savings, vegetarian habits and cat curiosity of what if? And, I was dumbfounded!
It started for me like a dream of a child within; interacting with the colours, clothing, graphics, entertainment, characters and mannerisms of anime world, and all I could think was that I would have left my parents penniless if I was born here. Trust me, you too!
One of many Japan’s cultures, the deep-seated one is the spirit of Kawaii. Now, a lot of manga lovers among us may already be familiar with the word Kawaii, which comes into play for everything “cute” that makes eyes shine brighter and smile a bit wider. And when you hear it more often than you can imagine, you know you have touchdown the land of Kawaii, Japan!
What is Kawaii, after all?
A prominent culture of cuteness overload, found in visual arts, manga sparkly eyes, rosy cheeks, Hello Kitty bags, panda iPhone covers, restaurant interiors with disney characters, printed socks, bicycles..phew! Essentially, every aspect of design transformed into having a life of it’s own. The outfits are put together with a lot of thought and distinctive personality, where one can easily spot the person behind the prints and the layers.
In my journey, everything was a visual treat and everything inspired me to take back home a bag full of Kawaii experiences and expression.
And, where do I find it?
In month’s travel, I spent the entire first week just straying around the streets of Osaka – Dōtonbori, shinsaibashi-suji, Umeda, and more. I would sit in a corner with a pack of candies, Pablo cheesecake, sushis and just watch the world around me changing from kitties to unicorns and black bob to pink hairdos. With so many colours, styles, quirk, and accessories, streets just never got boring. I was convinced, that people stepped out of their house for a big party everyday. Indeed, perfection mattered.
Is it just women who enjoy Kawaii?
With this long history of pop culture aesthetics, both men and women prefer to wear kawaii and maintain the non-sexy childlike appearance. An interesting aspect to this society is that the culture stand beyond age, gender and objects; while a grandma ties double buns, a fancy lad sits next in yellow culottes and giant pink shoes waiting for the next bus. A wonderland, as I desired.
But, is it evolving? Absolutely! People experiment and play with all perky little accessories even in the adored cultural shift of sustainable fashion. I observed a fascinating blend of minimalism and quirk of Hello Kitty, which redefined Kawaii in the contemporary frame.
Well, we can easily say that Japanese take immense pride in their history and with changing times, global interaction and beliefs, they continue to perfect the art of Kawaii.
If confused how to approach someone you like on the street, don’t be shy, say “you’re so Kawaii.”
A big hug to Manavi from Be for Beauty to invite me to be a part of their travel series.
Check out her blog for more wonderful stories.