The Japanese and cute…

When visiting Japan, you will fail to notice the abundance of cute or ‘kawaii’ characters used to promote…well anything and everything. The Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in Japan by Donald Richie explores the Japanese ideal of cute, and how much of an impact ‘cute’ makes in advertising.

Cute characters on a Meiji advert in Osaka

“Making and selling things kawaii is an enormous industry and it is driven by the women who buy it. But why are such things (‘character goods’ as they are called in the industry) sold in such large numbers. A senior analyst at the research section of the largest of the manufacturers said he believed 70 per cent of those he had surveyed really sought solace in character products, and that the more stressed out they were, the more strongly attached they were to the items” Donald Richie, The Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in Japan, 2003. Reaktion Books.

Cute cat and dog poster

While I was in Japan last year I noticed how cute characters were used in the most simplest of advertising and promotion.

Some Japanese sweet companys use 'kawaii' characters on their packaging


Pink balloon cat down Takeshita-dori in Harajuku

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