Kawaii Culture: 11 Extremely Cute Japanese Words

February 5, 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Three friends having fun together

Unsplash: Jamie Haughton

Japanese or Nihongo (日本語) is the national language of Japan. However, the history and origin of the language are unknown. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Chinese language has significant influence on the phonological system of the Japanese language. Instead of going in depth about the background of the Japanese language, let’s talk about one of the most essential parts of Japanese culture: kawaii.

Kawaii also known as cuteness (かわいい) or ( 可愛い) plays a major role in Japanese culture from entertainment to food and even in behavior. Cute Culture, also known as Kawaii Culture, is thought to have begun in the 1970s, following World War II, as part of a new style marketed towards teenage girls.

Kawaii Culture is widely seen in popular culture, like in anime and fashion, even in the food industry to create edible works of art. In fact, it is part of everyday life and it’s even spread across the world. Whether you’re just dabbling in Japanese or aiming for full fluency, mastering a few kawaii words will make you seem like a pro!

1. ねこ (Neko)
Pronunciation – ne-ko
Meaning – cat

2. くらくら (Kurakura)
Pronunciation – ku-ra-ku-ra
Meaning – dizzy or giddy

3. にこにこ (Nikoniko)
Pronunciation – niko-niko
Meaning – smile

4. たのしい (Tanoshi)
Pronunciation – ta-no-shi
Meaning – fun

5. おいしい (Oishii)
Pronunciation – oy-shi
Meaning – delicious, tasty

6. ばら (Bara)
Pronunciation – ba-ra
Meaning – a rose or a beautiful flower

7. たまご (Tamago)
Pronunciation – ta-ma-go
Meaning – egg

8. みず (Mizu)
Pronunciation – me-zu
Meaning – water

9. まご まご (Mago mago)
Pronunciation – mago-mago
Meaning – confused

10. 恋 (Koi)
Pronunciation – coy
Meaning – romantic love or passionate love

11. うつくしい (Utsukushii)
Pronunciation – oot-su-koo-shee
Meaning – beautiful or charming

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