One word that’s become quite well-known in anime- and Japan-centric circles is kawaii, which means cute, pretty, adorable, and in the context of someone who you have special feelings for, precious. It’s a word that can be applied to just about anything from cute cats on the Internet to onigiri kitchen sponges to little bean-shaped dog characters who spout trivia at you. The ideal of kawaii is important to females in Japan, and as a rule they’ll speak and act in a way that is cute and feminine — even the way Japanese females sneeze is cute. Whenever a word is popular, its meaning divides and moves in new directions. Some variations on the basic kawaii meaning include ero-kawaii (girls who are cute, but with an erotic or grown-up undertone present as well), or busu-kawaii (used for girls who have unattractive faces but who are nevertheless cute overall). A girl who tries too hard to be cute — perhaps by holding the sleeves of her coat with her fingers to make her arms seem too short so she looks like a “Super Deforned” character — is called burikko, loosely translated as “falsely cute girl.”
Japanese people have a heightened sense of kawaii.