Kawaii, Sebastian Masuda, Colorful Rebellion, Cool Japan


More than just 'cute'

Comical fantasy creatures from Nintendo games, girls with huge eyes:‘cute’ or kawaii is one of the most characteristic features of Japanese popular culture. But kawaii means more than just ‘cute’. It also denotes immaturity, helplessness and a gentle nature.

The kawaii culture arose as a protest among girls rebelling against the pressure to grow up, work hard and conform to the strict demands of society. Later, the popularity of kawaii brought it great commercial success. Kawaii icons like Hello Kitty gross huge profits in Japan and the rest of the world.

Spectacular kawaii installation debuts in the Netherlands

Japan’s Sebastian Masuda has achieved worldwide recognition as an artist and kawaii pioneer. In the Netherlands he’s principally known for the famous Kawaii Monster Café in Tokyo and his ‘Escape from Anonymouse’ performance at Amsterdam’s NSDM dock. Masuda’s travels and activities serve to unite the worldwide kawaii-community and in 2017 he was appointed cultural ambassador for Japan. His ‘Colorful Rebellion – Seventh Nightmare’ installation is a colourful room with an empty, white bed. The chamber’s walls are festooned with unconventional materials such as plastic toys, cuddly toys, ribbons and faux fur. The artwork constitutes a representation of Masuda’s complex imaginative world but is at the same time a portrait of the Harajuku neighbourhood, cradle of kawaii. In this district cuteness is deployed as a means of empowerment and self-expression: by plunging into a world of childish fantasy, people can escape conformity to the dominant norm.