Interview of Kawaii GazetteCollaboration
Kawaii Gazette is an over 10 years blog managed by two lovely Italian girls written in both Italian and English. What they discuss about is not only the general stereotype(such as Hello Kitty, shiny pink stuff or Lolita style) but the kawaii elements on really wide aspects. The blog shares kawaii information of lifestyle, commodities, Japanese origin characters, handmade craft and even consumer electronics. I emailed them for the interview to understand more about European kawaii lovers perspective, then they replied me kindly and promised to help me with a written survey.
Q1. Would you please list some words or impressive object to describe what kawaii means to you?
A1. To us, kawaii means creativity, self-expression, positivity. Kawaii is something bright, sweet and feminine, that brings you joy, lighten up your day. I don’t know if it could be useful for you but we asked the very same question to our readers some months ago. Many said kawaii means cuteness and fun, but there were also a few Italian readers who said that they see it more as an escape, a happy place away from the harshness of the world.
Q2. Since the mainstream value of view might be very different between Europe and Asia, from your personal experience, do you think kawaii culture lover community is a minority in your circumstance? What is the general opinion or image when European around you think of kawaii?
A2. In Italy, there’s quite a bit of prejudice, since Italian culture doesn’t always accept easily something unusual. It’s not uncommon to heard of girls harassed in the streets because they were wearing “alternative” clothes or looked different. This was especially true few years ago. Now Japanese and kawaii culture are much more mainstream, but some prejudices are hard to die, like the equation “gothic Lolita = hentai or cosplay”, and the people still feel entitled to criticize you if you stand out from the mass. The prevailing thought is that kawaii means something childish, connected to some sort of obsession with Japanese pop culture (i.e. always wear pink, listen to anime music and live in a room full of Hello Kitty dolls).
Q3. On the other side, if talking about the European kawaii culture lovers you know, is there any event that you participate regularly? What kind of characteristic do you think this community behaves?
A3. Italian kawaii lovers usually meet during comic conventions and community is very active in promoting kawaii culture during these events (especially “Lucca Comics & Games”, the biggest Italian comic-con). We participated to a few conventions not only as guests but also as part of the late Italian Gothic Lolita community, helping with the organization of lectures and fashion shows about Lolita style. There’s an educational approach of sort and people attending are usually very interested in understanding the phenomenon, what it is and where it comes from. Lately, these events were organized by the Italian “Harajuku Fashion Walk” community who helped spread kawaii fashion styles beside Lolita. They also organize fashion walks all around Italy now and then.
Q4. In your opinion, do you feel that the kawaii culture trend in Japan/Asia is different from Europe?
A4. In Europe we used to import the most flashy and peculiar aesthetical aspects of kawaii culture and style, especially in the past. Ten years ago, it was only Hello Kitty and Lolita and, at least in Italy, the term kawaii was used a bit inappropriately (more like a mere synonym of “cute” and not as a specific culture). Now it’s much more easy to be updated on the latest Japanese trends thanks to blogs or social network pages and it’s much more easy to buy items you like or even make your own, so Asian and European trends are much closer than before.
Q5. On your blog, what you talk about is not only the general stereotype(such as stuffs in pink or Lolita style), it introduce kawaii things on wide aspects. What do you supposes to bring to your reader through this blog? After you started the blog and promoted kawaii culture, do you feel it make some influence on kawaii lovers or other non-lovers?
A5. Our blog is online since 2006. At first we focused mostly on original characters and toys, but during the years we decided to talk also about fashion and lifestyle. It’s always been our playground, we just wanted to share what we like, but also highlight the lesser known aspects of kawaii culture, give our readers a larger picture of the aesthetic and hopefully to dispel some prejudices. Again, there’s not only pink or Hello Kitty or frills, so we want to show our readers that there’s more, not just one colour, one character or one kind of clothes. We don’t see ourselves as influencer, we don’t have a huge public like other kawaii blogs, but we hope that, at least in the Italian scene, we helped to spread and promote a lesser stereotypical view of kawaii culture and fashion.