My dissertation explores the rise and shifting perception of kawaii in Japan. By chronologically tracing one of its origins in the early 20th century, it investigates the role of shōjo artists leading up to Japan’s involvement in World War II. From here, it explores the existence of kawaii in terms of culture and aesthetics as well as the arrival of a ‘cute’ consumer culture and fashion subcultures – notably the Lolitas. My investigation is brought into the 21st century through the findings of two focus groups with Japanese students that centred around perception and experience and provided key primary research for my investigation.

Yumeji Takehisa circa 1905

Painting of girl with doll

Candy Candy 1970s

Sticker sheet from Candy Candy anime

Macoto Takahashi


RinRin Doll 2017

Hello Kitty coinpurse 1974

To report inappropriate content, an infringement of copyright, or to report a problem on the Portfolio platform, please contact the

Got an issue?

Thank you, your feedback has been received.