Otaku Encyclopedia Wiki

Kawaii (かわいい) is a Japanese term that means "cute" or "lovely" and a name for the "cuteness culture" in Japan. The Japanese like cute items such as clothing, toys, items of everyday use and cute style of anime and manga. Their fondness of the cute aesthetic has formed a culture called kawaii.


Originally, in the Shogunate period, the term had a completely different meaning, "pitiable" or "docile". A similar term, "kawaisō", referred to women being "arousing compassion" or "piteous". It evolved to "embarassed", "blushing", "splendid", "admirable" and to the current meaning, "cute" and "lovely".

Contemporary Usage[]

In the otaku fandom it's solely used as a word for "cute". The otaku use "kawaii" interchangeably with "cute" very often when talking about anything related to anime or manga.

It can refer literally to everything, including people, animals, fictional characters and items, often clothing and cosplays. Being kawaii is especially characteristic for waifus and idol genre characters. It's related to cute girls doing cute things.

The word appears in anime and manga as part of dialogue, since it's a commonly used Japanese word.

In real-life Japan, it sometimes even replaces "beautiful", since the Japanese prefer to use kawaii instead.

Notable Examples[]

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