Monday, May 24, 2010
Kawaii Food Fuels The Japanese
American culture uses pseudo Asian meditations and therapy to relax from the stress of who will become the next American Idol. Japan takes a break from the excessive work weeks through Hello Kitty style kawaii culture. Kawaii culture, which is explained in the Graphic Japan ready by Sharon Kinsella as a celebration of all that is "sweet, adorable, innocent, pure, simple, genuine, gentle, vulnerable, weak, and inexperienced in social behavior and physical appearance." To simply put it, its cute things.
At Nishiki market, the kawaii culture can be experienced through the way food is presented. Everything from candy, to rice crackers, to even mochi are transformed from their normal state to flowers, leaves and fruits. The walls of kawaii candy seem to be just as important to the Japanese experience as the tumpura stand next door.The reason for kawaii in food seems a little strange to an American like myself, but it is said that kawaii is used not because it is simply super adorable, but it is a connection to childhood that in a culture where adults are expected to work long hours in intense company groups.
The kawaii food in the specialty shops also had a lot of seasonality, or mono no aware. The rice crackers have pictures of delicate flowers and fish. The candies are shaped into seasonal flowers and fruits in pastel shades. The idea that there are certain things for every season, such as spring, is something that is important to thte culture thing. It was really interesting to see that even something that is really new like kawaii culture, especially when you think about how old the Japanese culture ranges back, has routes in something so importantly Japanese.
If you go to Nishiki market, or any sort of food store in Japan, you really should keep an eye out for the different types of kawaii food and candy you are bound to see.