Last year I decided to start writing letters. I inscribed on a Japanese pen pal site and received a lot of letters from girls (apparently boys aren’t very fond of letters) all over Japan. They have one thing in common: they are incredibly cute. The girl’s ages vary from 13 to 22 years, but their letters all feature bright envelopes, colorful writing paper and plenty of stickers and stamps.
I was a bit puzzled about how to write back. My stationary exists of white paper and white envelopes. Yes, incredibly boring. But at the same time, I felt I was a bit too old for cute things. I’m only 19, but in Europe having cute things is considered as childish. When I was in secondary school I was very fond of such things too. I liked to wear bows and ribbons, joyful colors and frilly skirts. Now that time has passed, and I just don’t feel like turning back. I guess I have grown out of it. Don’t get me wrong: I support the cuteness of the youth. My 13-year old sister, for example, abandoned her “childish” stuff last year and started acting like a 20-year old girl. I have given up to buy her girly things (which I used mostly myself). That’s why I think it’s kind of sad that children want to grow up so fast. They should cherish these cute things, as long as they can.
In Japan it’s not at all like that. On the contrary, girls ought to be kawaii (可愛い). With Hello Kitty as mascot, cuteness spread amongst all ages. Being feminine is being cute and innocent like a child, instead of being sexy in the West. That’s why Barbie has never been very popular. That’s why idol bands like AKB48 attract so many fans. And that’s why purikura isn’t just a simple photo booth.
Back to the letters. I wrote on coloured paper, stuck a few stickers on it and bought new envelopes. Patterned letter paper is hardly to find here. I discovered that it is fun to make your letter look nice and pretty. Or at least, I hope it looks somehow like that.
Facts for Fun
– Nice ideas for creative spirits: Matome
– How to get lots of pen friends: print this out, fill in, send to the address and wait. (Eventually start looking for cute paper)
– Thanks to K., R., K. and H. for the lovely letters!