Beyond Kawaii: The Truth About Japan’s Simple and Sophisticated Side

Let’s be real, when most people think of Japan, they probably think of Hello Kitty, Pikachu, and all things kawaii (cute). But let me tell you, not everything in Japan is cute. In fact, a lot of it is quite plain and simple.

Take MUJI for example. Their concept is minimalism and simplicity, no cuteness there. Or UNIQLO, probably the most commonly worn fast fashion brand in Japan. Nothing decorative there either. And what about high-end brands like Comme des Garcons? Not exactly known for their cuteness.

But let’s not forget about traditional Japanese culture, like Noh and tea ceremony. Being plain, poor, and calm is actually appreciated in these practices. And what about the people who gather at Izakayas every night? I don’t see any cuteness there either. They’re too busy chugging down sake and singing karaoke.

Even the entrance of an apartment building in Japan is usually pretty plain and simple. Do you think people who buy a room in the building want to make it “cute”? I highly doubt it. They’re probably too busy working at their stressful jobs to even think about decorating.

The truth is, what you see on foreign media is not a true representation of Japan. It’s just a reflection of your stereotype of Japan. And let’s be real, compared to other countries, Japanese people are definitely more keen on cute stuff. But that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to Japan.

It’s like thinking all of America is just McDonald’s, car culture, and gun crimes. Sure, those things exist, but it’s not the whole picture. The same goes for Japan, the kawaii culture is more popular amongst youngsters and foreigners, but traditional Japanese people prefer simple yet elegant and sophisticated things.

So next time someone asks why the Japanese want everything to be cute, remember, it’s just a stereotype and not the whole picture. And when you come to Japan, don’t be surprised if you don’t see cute things everywhere. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of sushi and ramen to keep you happy.


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