Welcome to the wonderful world of Kawaii ! ! ! But what is Kawaii ? ? ? The word actually means something like cute or pretty. One of constant characteristics of Kawaii is the association with animals. Bunnies, puppies, kittens are most common, and you see them everywhere.
As we look at some of the tracks we will point out some of the elements that are typically kawaii, including some of the hand gestures and dance moves,
We hope you enjoy it ! ! !
Hello. Welcome to the world of chocolate jellybean unicorns and stuff, aka “Kawaii”. As Sakura says this means something like “cute” but so much more too. My favourite type of “Kawaii” stuff is where it all goes a bit wrong ( by Western standards) such as in Ebichu , the housekeeping hamster ( want to see a hamster bite it’s “masters” boyfriends tender parts ? Then look for the “Camembert” episode on Youtube) or Gloomy bear, a “Kawaii” bear that is “befriended” by a little boy. Except that Gloomy behaves like a real bear and attacks him all the time. So sweet ! Anyway, on with the tracks.
Sakura – Yuikaori – Puppy Love
This is typically Kawaii ! ! ! You have two pretty girls singing about an innocent first love ♥ Kawaii girls have a whole language of hand gestures and in the video you can see some typical ones. The obvious one you will see is the gestures for the puppy ears with the hands at the side of the head to make a shape like ears, but also there is the sign for “no” or to signal disagreement which is the index fingers each hands crossed, and excitement is signalled by holding the arms close to the body and making a fist and then moving them up and down quickly. You can also see the gesture for determination which is like a karate punch move but without the violence and the heart sign made with two hands which of course symbolises love ♥ By follwoing the gestures you can actually understand the song ! ! !
No, it’s not the Osmonds ! How can you not like this ? It would be like baking a puppy in a pie and eating it. Too cruel. No, this is sweet, fun and totally adorkable too !
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Pairubu – Hazel Nuts Chocolate – Yo Ho Ho
From the album “Cute” (you get the picture I expect) Ms Nuts -. Chocolate sounds like she is being accompanied by a band of pirate unicorns on this song The whole album has a “toytown” feel to it and is highly recommended. I guess you can hear where this sound comes from in some of the earlier electronic bands from Tokyo. Mix their music with the whole Kawaii philosphy and it’s pretty much guaranteed that at some point someone would start singing about pirates.
And here it is, delightfully bonkers.
Sugoi ! ! ! (this is what Kawaii girls say when they mean wonderful ! ! !) I just love this track it is so much fun ! ! ! You have probably realized that one of the key concepts of Kawaii is a high pitched voice ! ! ! Actually I noticed that when I was in the USA the girls voice’s are much deeper than Japanese girls voices, but Kawaii exaggerates this and makes the voice higher and more childish, because of course the only thing cuter than a bunny is a kid ! ! !
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Sakura - H!P All Stars – All For One & One For All
Hello Project is an agency that is responsible for many of the Kawaii J-Pop idols and this is the entire agency talent in one video. This is a an old video, but you can see some really popular stars in this it when they were kids. (I wonder if you can see Fujimoto Miki and Maki Goto for example) I wanted to include this as the words of the song are really the philosophy of Kawaii. Kawaii is not revolutionary or challenging like punk or rap. The traditional Japanese values of cooperation and team work, and showing appreciation to each other and being positive are the key parts of Kawaii behaviour. Did you recognise the hand gestures this time?
My word ! There are so many of them ! Sakura explains better than I can here. It’s all about “togetherness” and “sharing” and yucky stuff like that that girlies like. For a chap like me it’s like peeking through a window into an alien world and being then attacked by orangey-pink kittens. Or something. I really must stop peeking through windows, I might get in trouble.
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Pairubu - The Kokessies - Sticky Honey Bunny
Ah, The Kokessies, one of my favourite discoveries of the last year. I’m not sure why, I am guessing that they weren’t particularly well known even in Japan. Active from 1994 and hailing from Kyoto they only made one album ” Whistle “from which this track is taken. Named after the traditional Japanese wooden dolls they employ” folk “sounds and instuments to make some charming and sweet music, They split in 1999 with the some of the members going on to record with” Pigeons ” . I am not sure why Honey Bunny is sticky. Perhaps it’s best not to ask.
This is so charming ! ! ! I really do not think there is a significance to the Honey Bunny Sticky lyric, I think it is just there because it is Kawaii ! ! ! I really like this track and the arrangement somehow reminds me of music lessons in elementary school which I suppose was what they were trying to do. I had never heard of them before and it is pity they broke up ! ! !
These are traditional wooden dolls that were first made in Zao in Yamagata prefecture as souvenirs for people who visited the famous hot spring spa there, and then became popular all over Japan. Each region now has its own styles and certain makers are well known and many people collect them.
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Sakura - Vanilla Beans – Nicola
I like Vanilla Beans very much. They are a more adult kawaii sound and I really like the European style they have. They are actually quite a big contrast to the more adult sexy J-pop idol image that is popular for older fans. But one of the elements of Kawaii is that is quite sexless actually and non threatening. This is one of the areas of confusion for western people who can be uncomfortable with the young girls and image that is central to Kawaii. Kawaii is really nothing to do with the lolicon (lolita complex) scene we have in Japan but it is often confused by western people with this.
My favourite of video here. The world’s crappiest airline ( they don’t even have a plane !) try to distract irate customers by “vogueing” in technocolour. And they have balloons too ! Everyone loves balloons, don’t they ?
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Pairubu – Tama – Tokyo Puppy
Cheating a bit here. This is not “girlies” (though there is a lady singer present) and the sound is more jerky New Wave than “cute” but I had to include it for the subject matter and the chanting at the end. If you don’t accidentally find yourself saying “Tokyo puppy, Tokyo puppy” at some point I shall be very surprised.
Can’t really tell you anything about the band “Tama” means (roughly) “Spirit” or “Ghost” (I think!) And if you Google “Tokyo puppy” you get lots of sites for people selling puppies in Tokyo (duh !). I love it though.
Mr P ! ! ! Where do you find these groups ? ? ?
This is another group I did not know before ! ! ! This is an ironic look at Kawaii and parody some of the elements, but it proves one thing - guys can not be kawaii ! ! ! But I did enjoy it. Animal motifs like puppies and bunnies are very popular motifs in Kawaii. So if you want to be ironic about Kawaii then using animal motifs if a very popular way to do it ! ! !
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We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Kawaii. It is different world and music style to the normal Spiller Stlye and in a short post like this one it is very difficult to explain the culture of Kawaii, but we hope at least you have enjoyed it. If you have any questions we will do our best to answer them in the comments and you can check out Kawaii Girl Japan (they have an Englsih page) if you want to discover more things kawaii!!!
So there you go ! An acquired taste , perhaps. Personally I love it. I love the batty themes, the squirrels in underpants, the neon puppies and the synchronised pointing. Wonderful stuff. So join me. Don your Hello Kitty underwear and surrender youself for a little “Kawaii” time !
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Next time we are going to write about Rocker Chicks, we hope you will join us ! ! !