The Suitcase Lady


October 23, 2018, 9:07 pm

Nobody does “cute” like the Japanese. Gushing over cute people, animals and consumer items is not a passing fad, it’s an ongoing cultural phenomena. Various theories have been proposed for the evolution of Kawaii, the name for all things childish and saccharine in Japan, a country the size of Montana with 127,000,000 people.

Science writer Natalie Angier states that “Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need.” These qualities are all included in the Japanese dictionary definitions for the word Kawaii: 1) itawashii (pitiable), 2) aisubeki (lovable) and 3) chiiskute utsukushii (small and beautiful). So in addition to being sweet, the Japanese concept of cute also embraces a sense of pathos: sadness and beauty, the ying and the yang.

An explosion of Kawaii as a mainstay of consumer culture began in Japan in the 1970’s and the tsunami is still rolling. It began with teenage girls inventing a faddish calligraphy style of rounded characters. The young ladies practiced their writing on stationery and diaries decorated with sweet, little animal pictures.  The Sanrio Company was the producer of many of these stationery items. Then, in 1975, Sanrio launched their “Hello Kitty” products. Kitty’s net worth in 2018 is now $42 billion.

My idea for this blog came from the most recent “Hello Kitty” development. It is truly Kawaii on steroids, it’s the Hello Kitty train. I will not even attempt to find words to describe the train which is currently running on Japan Rail tracks. Here are the pictures….and note that one of the stations it stops at is Puroland, Hello Kitty’s very own theme park.

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