Is it Cute or Awkward?

  • There is no doubt that as a foreigner living or visiting Japan, you have at least observed a few things that you think are bizarre and awkward but are seen as perfectly normal or even ‘cute’ by Japanese people. Here is a short list of things most Japanese consider cute, but they may be awkward and not so cute to foreigners like myself. This is subjective and based on my observations and personal opinions. You may add your observations, agreements or disagreements.

    Uchimata or Pigeon Toe

    Especially when wearing high heels, it is awkward to see some Japanese girls walk pigeon toed. Pigeon toe or uchimata is when the toes are facing inward when standing or walking. Some claim that it is the effect of Japanese way of seating during childhood. However sometimes it also seems that girls do it deliberately as it is traditionally seen as cute or feminine.

    Wearing Ill-fitting shoes

    Ok, as the topic above is about feet, we might as well address the ill-fitting shoes. Surely you have observed one too many girls who can hardly walk as the shoes or more specifically heels they are wearing are just simply too big. There can be a lot of reasons why Japanese girls do that. It can be that the pair of shoes is ‘too-cute-to-not-to-wear or buy’ or ‘would rather be seen in (ill fitting) stylish elegant pair of shoes than in a tacky comfy pair of shoes’.

    Hanagoe or Nasal voice

    It is more acceptable for sales clerks to use the nasal voice or hanagoe to protect their vocal cords. They constantly greet customers with the customary ‘Irrashaimase’ and other standard phrases during their entire shift. However, the case is different when Japanese girls talk using nasal voice to sound cute. Girls in idol groups are the best example of this, they achieve the cute and sweet image they want to project.

    ‘Yaeba’ or the crooked and fang-like teeth

    We usually get our crooked teeth corrected or have our ‘fangs’ removed, however it seems it is the opposite here in Japan. Some even undergo some sort of cosmetic surgery to achieve what they call ‘yaeba’ or the ‘double tooth look’. Apparently it is well liked by men as it is ‘charmingly childlike and cute’.