Translated by MATCHA_En
Japan's Kawaii Culture: What Is It And Where Can You Find It?
Written by Sawada Tomomi
This article takes a look at just what the word kawaii means, and its impact on Japanese culture. Learn all about kawaii characters, places, souvenirs, fashion styles and more!
Kawaii Idols And Voice Actors
Many kawaii idols and voice actors are active in Japan. We’ll introduce a few of the people and groups that best represent the kawaii culture now.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
An idol and model recognized worldwide as a fashion trendsetter, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is known for her unique songs and personal style. You could say that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has been a major influence on how the word “kawaii” and Harajuku fashion have spread across the globe.
The idol group AKB48 was founded on the concept of fans being able to go and meet their favorite idols, and AKB’s many members perform daily shows in the otaku haven of Akihabara. Their characteristic kawaii outfits are reminiscent of Japanese school girl uniforms.
The three members of the female dance unit Babymetal are both idols and heavy metal rock stars. Even popular overseas, their kawaii appearances belie the fury of their metal-style performances at live shows, which have given them a very high profile.
Momoiro Clovers Z
Known fondly as Momoclo, this five member idol unit has theme colors for each girl, and have distinctively intense dance routines.
An popular otaku idol group, the six members of Dempagumi Inc. all have their own individual style. Similarly to AKB48, they perform shows in Akihabara. Many of their dances and outfits are based on quintessentially Japanese styles, and they were selected as the “Best Japan Act” at the 2015 MTV EMAs.
Every anime fan knows the name of this exemplary voice actor, who boasts such popularity that she took the number one spot in Japan’s 50 Most Famous Voice Actors Poll of 2015.
Miyuki Sawashiro is perpetually on the forefront of the anime scene. She has so many voice acting credits to her name that it’s not an exaggeration to say that she’s done work on almost every well-known anime series. She is also a four-time recipient of the Voice Actor Award, and an extremely capable voice actor.
Kawaii Fashion & Make-up Styles
Where can you buy kawaii fashion items in Japan, you might ask? We’ll suggest several popular shops for you.
This brand is themed around natural, girlish fashion. Its elegant items create a favorable impression, and the brand’s feminine, sweet feel make it perfect for kawaii fashion.
Shimamura has a great number of branches in Japan, where you can relax and shop for cheap and high-quality items. The brand handles a wide range of item sizes and genres, so you can buy plenty of kawaii goods with different vibes.
A brand utilizing old clothes that still have a strangely new vibe, Wego’s fashion aesthetic adopts colors from 1980s chic, and their kawaii outfits are very popular with young people.
Originally from Harajuku, Spinns is a casual brand that has expanded nationwide. Spinns clothes use vivid color palette to convey kawaii energy and vitality.
A popular “girly” brand in Shibuya 109, Liz Lisa clothing designs are based on flower patterns, lace, ribbons and soft color tones. You can enjoy kawaii fashion that feels like it came from the closet of a European princess.
Take Home Kawaii Styles Via Japanese Magazines
If you want to know all about kawaii Japanese fashion, fashion magazines such as non-no, ViVi and CanCam are quick and easy references. For anime fanatics, magazines like Weekly Shonen Jump, which serializes One Piece, and Weekly Shonen, which serializes Fairy Tail, are great pickups.
Of course, you should pick up the latest magazines if you want the most up-to-date information. However, for people with budget constraints or people who want to do a lot of shopping, you can save some money by going to a used book store and picking up magazines which are a few weeks old.
Kawaii Makeup Tips
Harajuku-style makeup makes the wearer look almost like a doll, and there are several tricks for properly creating the kawaii look. Let’s give it a try!
1. Base makeup: In order to create that clear look, use BB cream, not foundation.
2. Eye makeup: We recommend brown eye makeup with a weak pigment base. Lightly apply brown shadow around the eye, then another layer of eye shadow in a color that goes with your outfit.
3. Eyeliner: Tighten up your eye line with a chocolate brown eyeliner - draw lines up to lift the corners of the eye.
4. False eyelashes: Use false eyelashes on the corners of the eye only to make your eyes them look bigger.
5. Blush: Instead of contouring, use a vibrant pink blush to create "blushing doll cheeks".
6. Lipstick: Use a suitable soft color of lipstick, then add luster with a clear or sparkly lip gloss.
Now, give your best head tilt or any of these other poses a try, and you've master the Japanese kawaii look!
Kawaii culture is now garnering attention from all corners of the world, and there are many venues to experience it for yourself in Japan. Why not immerse yourself in the culture of cute during your trip to Japan?