Cute in Japan

Japanese ‘cute’ is a curious and very contemporary aesthetic, a style, a taste, an affectation: it denotes anything small, vulnerable and childlike that induces a feeling of pitiful love. There are cute expressions, cute gestures and cute ways of standing, with toes turned in. There are cute ways of dressing, too, especially for girls and young women: shoes with buckles, crinolined mini-skirts, mittens, toys worn as accessories, and the ubiquitous socks, some ankle-length, others longer and worn as if in the process of falling down, an effect achieved with special sock-glue.

Kitty Hauser reviews two books on style in Japan: Fruits Postcards by Shoichi Aoki and The Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in Japan by Donald Richie.