When erotic meets cute: Erokawa and the public expression of female sexuality in contemporary Japan | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092



This article addresses a conspicuous phenomenon within the burgeoning cute cultures of contemporary Japan – namely, pre-adult women adopting a fashion style that is simultaneously cute and hyper-sexy. While both cuteness and hypersexuality stand in contradiction to the norms of Japan’s patriarchal gender system, public amalgamations of these two elements constitute a trend initiated by and for some contemporary young Japanese women. Through a series of ethnographic observations and theoretical reflections, the authors aim to uncover how the initially subcultural cute fashion phenomenon was brought to public attention by incorporating hyper-sexy elements into a ‘sexy’ facade that publicly signalled these young women taking control of their own sexuality. Such a transformation not only works to reclaim these practitioners’ sexual identities as women, but may also destabilize prevailing perceptions of acceptable (or desirable) feminine behaviour through the very instruments of sexuality that are readily produced and made available in the heterosexual consumer market.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): empowerment; erokawa; erotic-cute; femininity; hypersexuality; Japanese fashion
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