Oh My Kawaii, Cuteness Overload In Japan!

Clean, polite, safe and cute….these words are often used to describe Japan. So during my family trip to Japan from January 26 to the 31st, I thought I was prepared for all these. But I found myself bombarded by a “kawaii explosion”, getting caught in a severe case of cuteness overload.

The word “kawaii” literally translates into “cute” and symbolizes Japanese pop culture. Japanese society is obsessed with everything cute. With so much kawaii in Japan it is a little overwhelming.

Toys, costumes, souvenirs, snacks and pastries, window displays, vending machines, commercials on television, restaurant displays, business signboards, and mascots maintain the cute magic. Hello Kitty, Pokémons, Manga and anime characters, video gaming characters like Kirby and Sonic, and even Piko-Taro (ピコ太郎) of Pen Pineapple Apple Pen fame bombarded us from shop shelves, window displays, signs, posters, T-shirts and the like.

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute restaurant window display

Cute vending machine

Cute vending machine

Even fruits look cute

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute chocolates

Cute chocolates

These are not sex toys but snacks

These are not sex toys but snacks

Cute pastries

Cute pastries

Cute snacks

Cute snacks

Cute signboard

Cute signboard

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute signboard

Cute signboard

Cute signboard

Cute signboard

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Cute advertising

Advertisements for AV stars?

Advertisements for AV stars?

Manga posters

Manga posters

Logo of a Japanese pork chop restaurant

Logo of a Japanese pork chop restaurant

Cute advertising of a restaurant

Cute advertising of a restaurant

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Cute window display

Kabuki poster

Kabuki poster

Cute poster

Cute advertising poster of a restaurant

Even a Toto outlet looks cute

Even a Toto outlet looks cute

"Cute" Piko-Taro poster

“Cute” Piko-Taro poster

Cute wedding shop at night

Cute wedding shop at night

Cute 100 year old restaurant

Cute 100 year old restaurant

Cute Tokyo Station

Cute Tokyo Station

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys and collectibles

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys & collectibles

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute toys

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenirs

Cute souvenir

Cute souvenir

Cute souvenir

Cute souvenirs

Cute Hello Kitty bags

Cute Hello Kitty bags

Cute Hello Kitty

Cute Hello Kitty

Cute round bags

Cute round bags

Pokemon

Pokemon

Pokemon

Pokemons

Pokemon

Pokemons

Pokemon

Pokemons

Pokemon

Pokemons

Pokemon

Pokemons

Pokemon

Pokemon

Star Wars

Star Wars

Star Wars

Star Wars

Robots

Robots

Paperoid paper pipe robots

Paperoid paper pipe robots

Cute cartoon characters

Cute cartoon characters

Cute comics

Cute comics

Cute G-Shock watches

Cute G-Shock watches

I did not know that G-shock watches can be so expensive

I did not know that G-shock watches can be so expensive

Mascots, known locally as yuru-kyara (“loose” or “relaxed” characters), are ubiquitous in Japan, and are used to promote everything from soap, food and train lines, to regions of Japan and even prisons. They come in every conceivable size and shape, including some bizarre creations. Despite the amateur nature of some of these beloved characters, Japan is truly obsessed with these guys.

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

Cute mascot

 

Japanese street fashion is pushing the boundaries of what fashion can express. The costumes sported by Japanese youth is a Manga and dollhouse mash-up.

Japanese fashion...cuteness onerload

Japanese fashion…cuteness overload

Japanese fashion...cuteness onerload

Japanese fashion…cuteness onerload

Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

Cuteness overload!

Street fashion

Street fashion

Street fashion

Street fashion

Street fashion

Street fashion

Cuteness overload

Cuteness overload

Sales promoter

Sales promoter

Street fashion

Street fashion

A counter staff who did not seem too happy to be photographed

A counter staff who did not seem too happy to be photographed

Two very sporting and cheerful counter staffs

Two very sporting and cheerful counter staffs

A cute counter staff

A cute counter staff

Two tourists trying to be super kawaii

Two tourists trying to be super kawaii

A Japanese man dressed in his kawaii style

A Japanese man dressed in his kawaii style

A monk or a samurai?

A monk and a cowboy

Smart and kawaii fashion

Smart and kawaii fashion

Schoolgirls in cute uniforms

Schoolgirls in cute uniforms

Cute uniforms

Cute uniforms

Cute promoters

Cute promoters

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute kimono

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute kimono for little girls

Cute kimono for little girls

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Fashion for men

Fashion for men

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Cute fashion

Care for a Piko-Taro t-shirt?

Care for a Piko-Taro t-shirt?

Care for a Piko-Taro t-shirt?

Care for a Piko-Taro t-shirt?

I like photographing Japanese rickshaws and their pullers. They look so kawaii! They are known as Shafu and  jinrickisha danshi (“rickshaw boys”) by their fans, and are almost uniformly lean, muscular young men. These men have become the crush of women across Japan.

Two Japanese rickshaw pullers

Two Japanese rickshaw pullers

A Japanese rickshaw puller and his female customer

A Japanese rickshaw puller and his female customer

A Japanese rickshaw puller and his female customers

A Japanese rickshaw puller and his female customers

A shafu with his female customers

A shafu with his female customers

A jinrickisha danshi and his customers

A jinrickisha danshi and his customers

Two Japanese women in kimono on a rickshaw

Two Japanese women in kimono on a rickshaw

The only female rickshaw puller I saw when I was in Tokyo

The only female rickshaw puller I saw when I was in Tokyo

The rickshaw woman

The cute rickshaw woman

We were fortunate to witness a newly-wed couple sitting on a rickshaw pulled by a rickshaw boy on a Tokyo road. The couple were very sporting and the bride even waved at us.

A newly-wed Japanese couple

A newly-wed Japanese couple

A newly-wed Japanese couple

A newly-wed Japanese couple

Are they sporting? Lovely couple!

Aren’t they sporting? Lovely couple!

Is it any wonder that I seem to have fallen in love with Japan?

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