Do you know the Japanese word "Kawaii"? If you have some knowledge of Japanese culture and trends, I believe you have heard this word at least once.
What is "Kawaii"?
"Kawaii" is an adjective in Japanese that means 'lovely', 'loveable', 'cute', or 'adorable'. It refers to things that are cute and endearing, such as small objects, animals, or baby animals.
When you visit Japan, from the moment you arrive at the airport, you'll be greeted by cute mascot characters reminiscent of manga, and you'll encounter a plethora of cute items displayed in stores.
These are not just for children to enjoy. In Japan, adults of all genders also love kawaii things.
The kawaii culture is now prevalent throughout Japan.Cute latte art at a certain café
The History of "Kawaii" Culture
After World War II, the people of Japan were generally very conservative. Especially concerning women, it was considered the norm for them to dedicate themselves to their husbands and families, with entering the workforce being an exception.
However, as the 1970s rolled in, young women in their teens started to aspire to break free from these traditional norms. They wanted to challenge and overcome the societal expectations placed upon them.
They managed to popularize the horizontal writing style, reading from left to right, breaking away from the traditional vertical writing style that had been prevalent until then.
Additionally, during this time, a trend emerged among these young women to write characters in a deliberately roundish manner, known as "marumoji," and to decorate their writing with symbols such as ❤, ★, !, and ? to create a cute and charming aesthetic.
They began to express their identity to society, proclaiming, "We are kawaii girls!" They used these stylistic choices as a means to communicate their individuality and assert their presence.
Rounded letters born in the 1970s by Wikimedia Comons
Against this backdrop, in 1974, a stationary company called Sanrio introduced Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty quickly became immensely popular all over Japan and, even in the 21st century, its influence has transcended Japan, spreading across the globe.
Hello Kitty goods owned by j-Grab Mall staff
Earlier, we mentioned, "Kawaii culture is now prevalent everywhere in Japan."
This influence extends to food as well, with a significant impact. Today, we would like to introduce you to j-Grab Mall's top picks for "Kawaii" items related to food.
Too cute to eat? The Sweets by IKUMI MAMA
IKUMI MAMA Kawaii Cat Pattern Doughnut Set and IKUMI MAMA Kawaii Animal Doughnut Set are the doughnut sets of a store that is very popular in Japan right now, selling 2,000 doughnuts a day in a small store of only 230 square meters.
They make you smile the moment you see them or eat them.
IKUMI MAMA Additive-free Cat Pattern Dorayaki is a cute Japanese confectionery with adorable cat-shaped imprints. It features a soft and fluffy texture with a generous filling of smooth and subtly sweet red bean paste made from Hokkaido-grown azuki beans.
Since it comes in a set of six, it is also perfect for gifting.
At IKUMI MAMA, they carefully select ingredients that they truly believe are delicious, focusing on sources from all over Japan.
They handcraft our sweets every day. Their goal is not only to create adorable treats but also to provide safe and delicious snacks that are enjoyable for both the eyes and the body.
Please note that these IKUMI MAMA items will be shipped internationally using refrigerated shipping (COOL EMS by Japan Post). Currently, we are only able to ship to Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The handling time from purchase is approximately 5 days, and we will only dispatch items on Tuesdays. Thank you for your understanding.
Well, in the previous introduction, we showcased products (although they are food) that are so cute that you may hesitate to eat them. Now, let us introduce a product that appears to be food at first glance... But can it be eaten?
Just like the real thing?! High-quality Food Samples that Japan is proud of, by Tsukasa Sample
Representing the iconic Japanese cuisine - sushi.
Tsukasa Sample Food Samples 7 Types Sushi Key Chains are miniature keychains that faithfully replicate seven different types of sushi.
(Unfortunately, these cannot be eaten!)
It looks incredibly delicious! It will make you crave sushi!
Tsukasa Sample Good Luck Katsudon Extra-large Cutlet is a miniature keychain that realistically replicates the Japanese dish "Katsudon."
The term "Katsu" in Katsudon refers to a breaded cutlet, but it also has the same pronunciation as the word "victory" in Japanese, which is "katsu." As Japanese people who enjoy wordplay, we sometimes eat Katsudon as a lucky food to bring success in competitive situations. That's why this product is named "Good Luck Katsudon."
Eating this Katsudon... I mean, attaching this Katsudon keychain to your bag or wallet, I hope it brings you happiness.
Tsukasa Sample Medetaiyaki Food Samples is another lucky item of food sample keychain that is associated with wordplay.
Taiyaki is a confectionery made by pouring a batter made of water and flour into a fish-shaped mold and then filling it with sweet red bean paste before baking.
The word "tai" in Taiyaki has the same pronunciation as the word "omedetai" in Japanese, which means "celebratory". Because of this connection, Taiyaki is also considered a lucky food.
Even the red bean paste overflowing from the dough is faithfully reproduced in detail.
In Japan, food samples are commonly used in restaurant display windows and other settings. Currently, these miniature-sized items, including keychains, are not only popular among businesses but also enjoyed by individuals.
At Tsukasa Sample, skilled craftsmen painstakingly recreate each food sample with meticulous attention to detail.
These items are not mass-produced by machines in a factory, which means there may be subtle variations in texture, size, color, and patterns.
Just like how real cooked dishes can have slight differences in shape and size, Tsukasa Sample's food samples allow you to enjoy this realistic aspect.
Furthermore, the small size that fits in the palm of your hand adds to their overall kawaii appeal!
How was it?
This time, we introduced both "edible but too cute to eat" sweets and "inedible but incredibly realistic and tempting" food samples.
Which one was Kawaii to you?