Japan’s ‘yami kawaii’ culture breaks down mental health barriers

Fashion always plays out as a window into deeper societal changes and in Japan that is uniquely true.  Fashion is a way to express taboo topics as a structured form of rebellion in Japan.  Japan’s yami kawaii (病み可愛い) culture reveals new emergent generational codes that have been rising since Fukushima and Japan’s economic crisis. The impact of COVID-19 on those existing trends of mistrust and self-actualization play out in new ways now for younger people. 

In previous work, we saw yoga rise post-Fukushima as one sign of a shift in shaping a new kind of individualism in that framework of mistrust within a highly collective society.  The nature of that tension between the individual and society is a powerful tool to understand future behavior. If we can understand these dynamics we can design along with what people are working through – to augment their own design of the dissonance put upon them.


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