Tag Archives: kawaii and cute

Kawaii: simply cute, or something more?

"Girls in Harajuku --- Kawaii?" by Jun, via Wiki Commons

“Girls in Harajuku — Kawaii?” by Jun, via Wiki Commons

“Not to be confused with Hawaii” — Wikipedia

There’s one category of posts that I especially enjoy researching for Glossophilia — and that’s the identification of words in other languages that can’t really be translated literally or directly into English because they embody such rich and complex clusters of nuance and meaning specific to their native lands. The Japanese word kawaii is one such example. “Cute,” you might say, is what it means. But that’s to over-simplify a word that sums up an entire and all-embracing national aesthetic, which has become something of a prescription for all areas of Japanese life and culture while reflecting many of its complexities and ambiguities. It might not be quite as straightforward and “cute” as it might first appear. Continue reading