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When you hear the term “kawaii” (cute) what do you think of? Hello Kitty? Domo-kun? Everyone has their own idea of what makes something kawaii, what they might not know is the origin of Japan’s particular brand of cuteness.

At the exhibition “Taisho kara Hajimatta Nihon no Kawaii”(“The Taisho Era and the Origins of Japanese Cuteness”), a collection of so-called fancy goods dating from the Taisho Era (1912-26) until now — a whole 100 years — will be on display. “Fancy goods” is a borrowed-English term that means merchandise decorated with cute characters or designs usually aimed at a young, female consumer.

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