"Kawaii". In Japanese, it means "cute" or "adorable". The word was adopted by Westerners enamored with Japanese culture. But it's gone mainstream, and it now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Diehard Japanophiles have been using it from long before, peppering their English conversations with a "kawaii" here, a "kawaii" there.
Is it possible to overuse the word? Definitely. Will they like these gifts? Certainly.
Japanese eraser maker Iwako specializes in making erasers that look nothing like erasers, whether that will be drink cans, cards, toothbrushes, vegetables, and more. Iwako offers its erasers via its online store, and prices vary, from $1 to $14, depending on the type and number of pieces.
First things first, it's "po-key", not "pock-key" or "poc-key" or whatever. And this right here is the newest flavor, milk chocolate salty. Because milk chocolate is not enough. Needs more salty.
Nintendo can make just about anything cute, including mushrooms. And taking Mario's cute Power-Up mushroom and turning it into a salt shaker makes it that much more. While it might not power up the meal, it will power up your dinner table.
"Adorable"? Don't you mean kawaii? Learn how to make lunches with cute caterpillars, cars, and kitty cats. Yes, these kinds of lunches are geared for smaller kids in Japan, but there's nothing cute about a middle-aged salaryman slurping down ramen. Nothing.
It's Monster Hunter's absurdly cute version of those Monster Hunter cat humanoids (Felynes!) in ear muff form. Perfect for covering your ears in the dead of winter and for blocking out those who just don't get why Mon Hun is so damn popular in Japan.
Mickey Mouse? No, you do not want a Mickey Mouse watch. You want a My Neighbor Totoro one. Seiko created a line of Totoro watches that feature the Totoro from the iconic Hayao Miyazaki anime. The watches are classy and subtle, and they're something you might even be able to get away with in dress clothes. Since they're made by Seiko, you'll know they'll hold up. And since they're Totoro, you'll know they're cute.
This is less "kawaii" and more "sekushii" (sexy). Here's Catherine, star of the Japanese role-playing game...Catherine, immortalized in PVC, ready for your desk. Just don't say she's cute!
Hello Kitty Back Massager ($20): This is a shoulder massager. It's not for masturbation. It's to massage your shoulders. No, really! Which is why it's traditionally been sold in family-style diners in Japan. Perhaps, the most infamous Hello Kitty-licensed product ever.
(Top photo: Shizuo Kambayashi | AP)