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What is Kawaii? Discover What Led to Japan’s Culture of Cuteness

Japanese Cosplay

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.

Kawaii food

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).

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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