Many Japanese women aspire to be 'kawaii' or cute. The presenter looks at why, and what this phenomenon might suggest about Japanese men.

Key words-phrases: 'burriko', 'kawaii', infantilization, self-denigration

Accompanying handout at:

A recent Doshisha Women's College response:

"Wash Away Our Cutie Addiction"

What on earth can women get from acting “Burikko”? According to the “Pitiful Cuties” video, many women try to be child-like to satisfy men. In other words, men demand female self-denigration as a condition of love. Are women sure that they want to do that?

When I was in high school, I wanted to be told that I was beautiful more than cute because cute sounded childish. Thus, I often told my female friends they were beautiful rather than cute. However, one day, one of my high school friends said to me, “You do not often say to others that they are “kawaii”. Why? You think of yourself as cute, don’t you?” I just got irritated. I wonder why more women aspire to cuteness not beauty. Honestly, women who infantilize themselves for men are pitiful because such types tend to be regarded as flirtatious by other women even if it is not true. To make matters worse, infantilization not only denigrates but also deprives women of our dignity. Women do not have to act like that for men. It’s nonsense. Women should realize such absurd acts just encourage male dominance. I just want to say to women “Wash away your cutie addiction and let your real self out!”

Takeuchi Ayumi, 2011


Japanese women who perform cute behaviors that could be viewed as forced or fake are called "burikko" and this is considered a gender performance. The term "burikko" (鰤子) is formed from the kanji "buri" 鰤, meaning Japanese amberjack, and "ko" 子, meaning "child". It was a neologism developed in the 1980s by singer Kuniko Yamada 山田邦子 (Yamada Kuniko).

Little girl on marketing: (1 min.)

(text) Selling Pink:
(f/ Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes,
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