Japanese culture and media have long fascinated the west, from the trippy celluloid visuals of 1980s anime to the technofuturism of its major cities. Japanese culture is broad, deep, multifaceted and fast-moving – and more of it is available to us on the other side of the world than ever before. One aesthetic, though, has risen above the rest to arrest the hearts and minds of many: kawaii. Kawaii translates to ‘cute’, and describes a very specific brand of Japan-influenced cuteness. Kawaii is all the rage, and it isn’t just children and young adults getting on board! If your child has started saying words like ‘sugoi’ or ‘oishii’ – or, indeed, if you yourself know what they mean without looking them up – it may be time for you to introduce some kawaii aesthetics into your home. But how?
Kawaii aesthetics are extremely easily recognisable, in large part due to the colours they commonly use. Pastel colours are king in kawaii-land, being soft and bright – almost akin to the colour palettes of children’s toys and nurseries. Pastel pinks and blues are particularly on-brand for kawaii spaces, and can also ensure a room remains bright and open-feeling.
The vast majority of your kawaii aesthetic will be achieved through accessories. Kawaii is defined by cultural mascots and styles of reproduction, be they specific types of drawing or specific forms of figurine. Chibi-style art and models are de rigueur for a kawaii space, Chibi being a cutesy form of reproduction wherein characters are drawn with oversized eyes and heads. There are all sorts of ways that this can be incorporated into a kawaii room. Kenji plushies could be stacked on a shelf overlooking your desk; gacha game collectables can be used as desk ornaments and cute accoutrements to bookends. Cute lamps can be used to illuminate certain figurines or shelves to keep the atmosphere light and sweet.
If it’s a bedroom you’re kawaii-ifying, then the bed itself offers an incredible opportunity to dramatically change the feel of the space. Pastel colours alone could be used to great effect here, but the better option might be to seek out branded bedding that depicts kawaii figures or characters from a favourite anime. Old-school classics like Sailor Moon are a strong choice, as are evergreen Chibi characters like Gudetama – but shows like Cardcaptor Sakura and films like You Name. are also great choices.
Even after painting, you might find that the walls feel a little bare. Hanging a mirror can help some, but this could also be an opportunity to place even more artwork up to complete your kawaii aesthetic. Posters for the same shows mentioned above could be transformative, providing they are bright enough to keep things light!