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What is the Exact Origin of “Kawaii”? –The “Kawaii 2.0” Theory Vol.2

「かわいい」の起源はどこだ!?——「かわいい 2.0」論(2)
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What is the Exact Origin of “Kawaii”?  –The “Kawaii 2.0” Theory Vol.2

 

Where did “kawaii” originate from?
During the last piece I wrote about the need to update the concept of “kawaii”, and began to sketch out a simple model. But this rough model isn’t enough to zero in on its exact nature. In order to explore what “kawaii” is, we have to find out about its past, or in other words, its origin. So where exactly did “kawaii” come from?

In critic Inuhiko Yomota’s “Kawaii Theory”, which we previous cited, the origin of the word “cute” was analyzed in detail. According to Yomota, more than 1,000 years ago, the words “kawayushi” and “kaohayushi” were used. “Kawayushi” means “so pitiable one can’t stand it”. “Kaohayushi” is used similarly, to describe when “your face feels hot from embarrassment” or “when you feel guilty and your face turns red”. In either case, these words are associated with a negative image, and in no way the same as the present word “kawaii” to describe something small or childish.

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Author
KAI NAGASE
KAI NAGASE

Writer, Book Reviewer. Having the degree of MA. (Japanese Literature) I love Japanese Girl's Popular Music, such as YUKI, Chara, Makoto Kawamoto, and Seiko Oomori.

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