Are you a fan of Hello Kitty or Pikachu? Do you enjoy cosplay and dressing up in costumes and accessories that represent your favorite characters from anime and film? On your next visit to Disney’s Epcot, celebrate the color and character of a prominent aspect of Japanese culture with Kawaii: The Culture of “Cute“ at the Japan Pavilion’s Bijutsu-Kan Gallery.
What is kawaii? The term refers to items that have the quality of being cute, lovable, or adorable. The culture evolved in Japan after World War II when young people actively searched for a way to relieve the stresses of wartime life. Over time, the kawaii philosophy of artistic style has evolved into a prominent aspect of Japanese culture. For some, it is a lifestyle that permeates every facet of life — clothing, food, toys, home, work, and personal appearance.
The heart of the Kawaii exhibit is the Melty-Go-Round sculpture by Japanese art director Sebastian Masuda. The large, translucent pink acrylic sculpture is colorfully filled with items of cuteness and is a representation of things that are the root of kawaii—an expression of things one loves the most.
Around the gallery, you will see collections of kawaii items that are categorized into “rooms.” Look for examples of kawaii in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the apartment, in the workplace, and so on. Take your time when looking at the displays because they are superbly detailed with many contemporary and vintage collectibles
Speaking of collectibles, while you are at the Japan Pavilion, check out the Mitsukoshi Department Store where you will find an amazing variety of Japanese souvenirs, including Tamagotchis, action figures, Hello Kitty, anime, and many, many other kawaii “cute” items.
Many of the World Showcase pavilions at Disney’s Epcot have rotating exhibits for guests to view and learn more about each country’s culture. For more information, check the Walt Disney World website, the My Disney Experience app, or ask a Cast Member.
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
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