Since the 1970s, kawaisa (or kawaii, literally cuteness), has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture.
The culture started as part of a new style of writing, where teenage girls started adding little pictures to their writing, such as hearts, stars, smiley faces, and letters of the Latin alphabet. Later the cute handwriting was also associated with acting childishly and using infantile words.
With the growing trend, some companies started selling cute products, such as Sanrio which came out with Hello Kitty. The 1980s also saw the rise of cute idols, such as Seiko Matsuda who is largely credited with popularizing the trend.