Thursday, March 31, 2011
When I was in Japan in 1998, I kept hearing the same word wherever I went with my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter: "kawaii." It wasn't a word I learned in the cram Berlitz Japanese class I took before we left California. So I was mystified in my first few days in Mito when people, usually older women, would stop me and say, "Kawaii ne." At a Buddhist temple in Nikko, a whole busload of older Japanese tourists surrounded us with a chorus of "Kawaii!"s.
I think I figured out pretty quickly that they were telling me my daughter was cute. I learned to nod and tell them that she was "Ni hai san," because most people usually asked how old she was next.
"Kawaii" means adorable, precious, lovable, or innocent, and it was everywhere in Japan when we visited. At the mall, we browsed whole floors devoted to Hello Kitty! merchandise: backpacks, cell phone covers, t-shirts, stuffed animals taller than a toddler, toilet paper. (My daughter was not a fan of the cute after a lumbering Hello Kitty! mascot approached us and towered over her stroller. Definitely not kawaii!)
And it's not just teenage girls, who originated the kawaii craze in the 1970s, who are crazy for cute. Kawaii mascots adorn ads, are painted on the sides of airplanes, and served as cute symbols for the Winter Olympics, held in Nagano in 1998. Even the Tokyo Police have their own cute mascots.
Usagi wa kawaii desu ne. (I'm dusting off the little Japanese I know. I hope I said, Aren't rabbits cute?)
The first batch of the Cuddle Bunny printable pdf pattern has sold out. I've listed more in my Etsy shop so that you can sew up your own kawaii rabbit. You can find the pattern here.
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 1:23 PM