Sunday, May 28, 2006


As an outsider to Japanese popular culture I’m wondering how visual-kei is positioned in relationship to kawaii culture. Kawaii (sometimes kawairashii), or “cute culture” is well-documented. In 1995, Sharon Kinsella showed how kawaii crossed many domains including handwriting, fancy goods, clothes and food. More recently there’s Hjorth’s paper on the intersection of kawaii and mobile phone culture “Textperts and other Thumbomena: Mobile phones and Japanese cute culture.” - this traces the origins of kawaii culture and shows, in a similar way to Ito’s work, what happens when new technologies adapt to local socio-cultural practices. Visual-kei seems to be drawing from a different set of influences including anglo-american popular music and traditional kabuki. It seems comparatively hard-edged - so I’m curious to know if it defines itself in opposition to kawaii?

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