Gallery of kawaii style tattoos that can be filtered by subject, body part and size.read more
“Kawaii” (かわいい or 可愛い) is a Japanese term meaning “cute” and “adorable.” Kawaii tattoos emphasize small, round and childlike features.
Kawaii is an abbreviation of “kawayushi,” referring to shy, vulnerable, lovable and small traits. This art pulls inspiration from the physical features of children and baby animals.
Historians tend to credit the Edo period (circa 1603-1868) for laying the groundwork for Kawaii with a revival of Neo-Confucian ideals. Confucian doctrine, in a broad and oversimplified sense, reinforces a social order where female infantilization and domestication are considered valuable and attractive. In art history, the Edo period shows the first recorded examples of Kawaii art with woodblock carvings of adorable children and cute female virgins.
The term “kawayushi,” however, first appeared in dictionaries during the Taishō period (1912-1926) and the subsequent art most resembles Kawaii as we know it today. (e.g. “Hello Kitty” and Kewpie dolls of the 20th century are some of the most recognizable examples of modern Kawaii).
Sub-genres of Kawaii include guro-kawaii (grotesque cute), kimo-kawaii (creepy cute), ero-kawaii (sexy cute) and busu-kawaii (ugly cute). Tattooers creating Kawaii may pull from existing artwork, or may use these aesthetic principles to put their unique spin on it.