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Tea Leaves

Japan proves that 'cute' can be soothing

In unsettling times, national passion for 'kawaii' offers peace of mind

At a post office in Tokyo, Kanpokun plush toys, the mascots of Japan Post’s insurance-services department, remind customers of social-distancing rules in the waiting area. (All photos by Edward M. Gomez)

The new kawaii (cute) looks a lot like the old kawaii -- but it feels different. It's the old kawaii with a psychic-emotional twist.

This is a matter of perception, of course, just like so many other reactions to aspects of everyday life that have been subverted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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