Ambassadors of Cute

Japan has a trio of new Pop Culture Ambassadors -- young women serving as personifications of the country's obsession with all things cute.

Each of the three new diplomats represents one of Japan's popular niche fashion trends in an effort to boost their influence on worldwide culture. The trends, which include schoolgirl and Lolita, are meant to represent all things Japanese teen. Their duties will primarily involve appearing and speaking at cultural events like this summer's Japan Expo in Paris.


But can a government program really make something cool? Japanese culture has already trickled its way into the U.S. mainstream with anime, manga, video games and -- of course -- Hello Kitty. A lot of these trends may still be sort of underground, but that's how fads start. Look at punk as an example. First, it was a niche music scene that frightened the general public. Then the small underground scene became a large underground scene. Then a few bands brought it to the mainstream and all of a sudden -- bam! -- it was trendy and it was all over. With time, then, maybe Japanese kawaii (cute) culture will do the same. In 20 years it will be watered down to near extinction and we'll all buy ruffled Lolita dresses at the Gap.


In the meantime, however, maybe authority figures like the Japanese government aren't the best people to market trends to rebellious teenagers.

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