I am a sucker for cute things and Japanese things. So cute Japanese things?? I cannot resist. The first time I heard the word kawaii was in high school because my friend was taking Japanese. As described in Sharon Kinsella's "Cuties in Japan," "Kawaii or 'cute' essentially means childlike." And when I think about kawaii, childlike things, I think of Sanrio! In elementary school, many of my school supplies were Keroppi. From reading "Cuties in Japan," I learned more about the "Fancy Goods" industry which Sanrio leads. From stationary to housewares, Sanrio has definitely capitalized on the kawaii trend. There is even a blog dedicated to cute-ness in "food, fashion, and art." Fashionably Cute follows the currents trends of anything and everything cute and kawaii.
I have begun to notice a strong Hello Kitty following among girls in high school and in college; My own 16 year old sister is Hello Kitty crazy. It is not only Hello Kitty, but the use of child icons and characters amongst teenagers is quite popular in the US across many different crowds. An example of American kawaii, would be Spongebob Squarepants or Bob the Builder. Many high school students use child backpacks and use goods meant for children. The trend of cuteness in Japan came out of rebellion in the 1960s when students did not want to read their university textbooks and instead read comics (Kinsella). Kinsella says, "cute-style is anti-social; it idolises the pre-social." I find this concept very interesting because it was once a big counter-culture against the "adults." I wonder if the trend here in America has the same context. Though I do not think that the high school boy with baggy pants and the Spiderman backpack is consciously thinking he is making a statement against society, unconsciously he is rejecting the social norms of having to grow up. It makes me question why is it that cute, childlike things are so.. cute?! Is it because we all have an innate longing for times that were much more simple and in indulging in items like a Hello Kitty toaster, do we reclaim a part of our adult life? As a graduating senior, soon about to enter the real world and having to face the harsh realities outside of my bubble known as Davis, having a notebook with incorrect English and little bears does give me comfort.
The compact challenge for me has definitely been a challenge. I have not exactly stopped buying new things, but when I buy new things I look for bargains and a great place to get bargain items is Daiso. They have everything there from gift-wrap to simple electronic accessories to housewares and stationary. They have so many things that are just too kawaii. Did I mention most things are $1.50? Bargain shopper! They even have those energy saving lightbulbs that come in a two-pack for only $1.50.
Raphael Sarmiento Blog #3
Sharon Kinsella. "Cuties in Japan." Class Reader.