Yami Kawaii and Mental Health

yami kawaii and mental health

What is Yami Kawaii?

“Yami Kawaii”- Yami means both sick and dark – first emerged as a cultural phenomenon in Japan, 2015 and it is actively taking its popularity after pandemic hit us all. Its purpose is to break the two taboos in Japan – depression and mental health by fashion.

You can recognise Yami Kawaii with a merged style of cute outfits with accessories such as skulls, guns, syringes with blood leaking and gauze wrapped around the wrist to indicate self-harm.


A little-known artist by the name of Bisuko Ezaki began posting illustrations to social media platforms as a way to deal with his mental health issues. He began to illustrate as a way to deal with his anguish and fears and realised it became his way to cope through difficult emotions.

Yami Kawaii and Mental Health

Japan has long struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

The possible reasons could be long working hours, pressure and of course the cultural stigma around mental health and where Yami Kawaii steps in.

Yami Kawaii is what helps people to cope through their difficult emotions by releasing it with expression. It gives them a sense of not feeling alone but also makes them feel powerful of coming out in their ways. And maybe this is their ray of light!

Joshua Paul Dale is a professor from Japan who specialises in the impact of kawaii culture says “when you express kawaii, you are expressing a desire to appeal to the people, and expressing a desire for healing. So maybe that can help people with those dark and more difficult issues that can’t be openly expressed in Japanese society”. 

Can we say it is true?

Imagine you blowing a balloon, and you don’t stop, what would happen next?

It will blast, isn’t it?

Now imagine you are asked to supress your emotions and releasing it comes with more risk. What would you do?

Isn’t it creative, and brave to come up with your gloom when the environment doesn’t give you the adequate resources to gloom?

Maybe some of us take time to wrap our mind around this, but their story makes a lot of sense in their context.

Although as a mental health counselor, I would hope- the taboos to be dissolved and people can cope through the mental health challenges not only by Yami Kawaii but by all other healthy means!

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