Cult of the Cute


Two out of ten pages, printed in black and gold.

Cult of the Cute
Contribution to Arkitip Issue 0023, 2004


A totempole of cuteness, made out of various characters, found allover Japan.

Cuteness or ‘kawaii’ is omnipresent in the products and advertising of contemporary Japanese consumer culture. Far away from the big city shopping paradises of Tokyo, this culture of cuteness also seems to have taken deep root.


Pok√©mon Pikachu painted on a garagedoor in a small fisherman’s village on the east coast of Rebun To, a small island in the farthest north-west corner of Japan.

Even in the remote villages of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, popular characters can be found everywhere, painted on garagedoors, or made from garbage found on the beach.


Doraemon, the cat-robot, Hello Kitty and Minny Mouse made out of abandoned netfloaters and other junk.


Birthday Kit from Hello Kitty Play Book, Sanrio Co., 2004

Hello Kitty, one of the major ‘players’ in cuteness industry, is celebrating her 30th. birthday this year. I’d like to honour this joyful event by having a ‘totempole’ of major cute characters erected at a location at the coolest core of Japan’s shopping culture, Shibuya.


Traditional Kimono Kitty courtesy Sanrio Co., 2004.

Ken Belson & Brain Bremmer’s thorough analysis of Sanrio Co. in Hello Kitty, the Remarkable Story of Sanrio and the Billion Dollar Feline Phenomenon (John Wiley & Sons, 2004) offers great background info.

September 10th, 2004
, Posted in Illustration