Anqi WU z3325285 Reading Journal 2

Kawaii, which means, “lovable”, “cute”, or “adorable” ,is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture. Although “cuteness” can be argued to be found in other parts of the world, this reading material lead me to the description of a certain social and political atmosphere that relates to the development of the kawaii aesthetic in Japan.

When referring to japan, popular cute characters, cartoons and comic books are the first images that occur to me, such as hello kitty, Miffy and Winnie-the-Pooh. However, after reading this paper, I have a deeper understanding of the important and unique role KAWAISA plays in Japanese culture and society.

 Firstly , the boom in kawaii images in advertising and marketing comes not only from the cute images with a quality that makes things natural to love, but more importantly may from the associations it conveys, including sunaoni (obedient or docile),enryogachi (reserved)and so on. In early Japanese culture, women are given little freedom to choose their favored lives, they are more likely to serve for their husbands and then their children. Thus, being obedient and reserved is treasured in that society, along with the kawaii images which represent this kind of qualities. And later, In some cases, though, even disobedience and a lack of reserve can be kawaii, so kawaii could be further accepted by the society. it occurs to me that a popular concept or image should at least meet the value of a certain culture and can survive only if its cormotation could keep up with the times.

 kawaii images repudiate concerns with giri and on (roles and social responsibilities) and thus lead to a disregard for status, the image has also come to represent ideals of democratization and egalitarianism. I have read a report suggesting that the the income gap between rich and poor of Japan is the smallest in all Asian countries. From my point of view, egalitarianism is an ideal destination we are searching for, where every person contributes his or her strengths to the society and receive the corresponding share, which, of course, need not to be strictly the same. So if we look into the kawaisa in Japanese culture, we can see clues why this country could manage to achieve our cherished illusion of equality.

 Finally, kawaisa could be controversial when it comes to its role in communication. It is natural to think that a uniform attitude towards kawaii things will offer a more acceptable topic for even strangers and will surely bring people together . I think this may be a reason why Japanese have such a strong cohesion. From this point, it become easier to understand why the Japanese can obey orders just like robots, and why this nation recovered from the Second World War so quickly and rapidly. However, here is the thing, Even though kawaii images attract others, they also stop others from inquiring into one’s real self by communicating that everybody is the same. I do not want all my friends to be the same, I believe variance in a friend circle is crucial to maintain a lifelong relationship.


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