Anna D. BERTOVA
Saint Petersburg State University
7-9, Universitetskaya embankment, Saint Petersburg, 199034 Russian Federation
PhD (in Philosophy)
ORCID: 0000-0002-2376-5022Culture of “Cuteness” (Kawaii) and Japanese ReligionsAbstract:
Culture of «cuteness» began its rapid spread in the 1970-ies, and became almost omnipresent at the end of the 1980-ies. If originally the word «cute» (or kawaii in Japanese) was used towards small objects or non-adolescent people, especially children and small animals, today it can be applied to both animate and inanimate objects, starting from personal belongings and accessories – toys, clothes, shoes, stationery, up to children, celebrities, politicians, elder people, and the Japanese emperor. Main principles of the culture of cuteness have influenced even spheres that earlier seemed to be absolutely inaccessible to it, including the sphere of religion. This article aims at analyzing various examples of the adoption of the culture of cuteness in Japanese religious organizations. The author considers reasons of using of religious accessories and souvenirs with famous «cute» characters in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, as well as motives of creating their own specific «cute» heroes representing the temple and aimed at renovation of the familiar image of the religious organizations and at attraction of new believers and tourists. Also examples of using cute characters in Japanese Christian churches are analyzed. Despite less intensive use of the cute characters than in traditional Japanese religions, Christian organizations are rather positive towards referring in their activities to books, manga comics, and anime created by secular artists and designers, where Christian doctrines and way of life are demonstrated through principles of the culture of «cuteness».Key words:
culture of cuteness, kawaii, religion, Japan, Bud-dhism, Shinto, Christianity, Islam, pop culture, man-ga, souvenirs, accessories, Hello Kitty.References:
- Bertova, A. (2017) K voprosu o pochitanii predkov v sovremennoi Yaponskoi katolicheskoi tserkvi. Asiatica: Trudy po filosofii i kul’turam Vostoka. No. 11-2. 65–80. (in Russian)
- Bertova, A. (2017) Hristianstvo v Yaponii: opyt istoriko-religiovedcheskogo analiza. Saint Petersburg: Nauka. (in Russian)
- Doi, T. (2020) Struktura amae. Moscow: Serebryanye niti. (Russian translation)
- Goodings, K. (2008) 『イエス様のお話』: Iesu sama no ohanashi [Tales about Jesus Christ]. Tokyo: Joshi Pauro kai.
- Ishida, K. (2012)
「日本のカワイイ文化の特質・来歴とその国際的発信について」: Nihon no kawaii bunka no tokushitsu – raireki to sono kokusaiteki hasshin nit suite [On the Character and History of Japanese Kawaii Culture, and a Proposal of Its Way of International Communication]. Komazawa joshi daigaku kenkyu kiyo. No. 19. P. 57 – 68. (in Japanese)
- Kagami, K. (2014) 「かわいいキリスト教の本」:Kawaii kirisutokyo no hon[Kawaii Book on Christianity]. Tokyo: Ikarosu shuppansha. (in Japanese)
- Kinsella, Sh. (1995) Cuties in Japan. In: Skov, L. and Moeran.Women, Media and Consumption in Japan.London: Curzon Press. Pp. 220–254.
- Mendes, E. (2015) Ancient Magic and Modern Accessories: A Re-Examination of the Omamori Phenomenon. The Hilltop Review. Vol.7. Iss. 2. P. 152–167.
- Porcu, E. (2014) Pop Religion in Japan: Buddhist Temples, Icons, and Branding. The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. 26:2. Pp. 157–182.
- Reader, I. (1994) Religion in Contemporary Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Sato, K. (2009) From Hello Kitty to Cod Roe Kewpie: A Postwar Cultural History of Cuteness in Japan. Education about Asia.Vol. 14. No. 2. Р. 38–42.
- Yomota, I. (2018) Teoriya kawaii. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie. (in Russian).
Bertova, A. (2023) Culture of “Cuteness” (Kawaii) and Japanese Religions. International Journal of Cultural Research, 1 (50). 87–102. DOI: 10.52173/2079-1100_2023_1_87