Kawaii doesn’t just apply to fictional characters, it also materializes in real life as a fashionable subculture. Cosplay, or costume play, is now a hallmark of modern Japanese life. People dress up to portray anime and manga characters, or their favorite cutsie pop-culture icons with elaborate outfits and various accessories. There’s even organized events, where kawaii fans celebrate their cuteness with parades and gatherings in Japan, the Philippines, Korea, and many other countries across the world.
While sushi might be the first dish you think of when it comes to Japan, it could be argued that bento boxes are even more popular. The trend involves turning basic packed lunches— comprising rice, fish or meat, and vegetables—into adorable works of art. Kawaii’s influence has resulted in two distinct bento box styles; kyaraben (character bento) or oekakiben (picture bento).