The Japanese obsession with all things cute has reached new heights, as a craze for pictures of hamsters’ bottoms gains momentum. More than 40,000 copies of photo books of “hamuketsu” – a word that’s a mash-up of the Japanese for hamster and bottom – have already been sold, and one of the publishers has set up a Facebook page dedicated to furry hamster behinds.
The page has thousands of fans and hundreds of photos have been uploaded so far. “The great thing about hamuketsu is that it is delightfully cute,” a spokesman for Basilico, one of the publishers, tells the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t stop smiling when I see these bottoms.” Another book on the topic is called Hamuketsu: So Cute You Could Faint. The phenomenon is the latest development of an aspect of modern Japanese culture known as kawaii, meaning “cute” or “adorable”. The aesthetic rivals Japanese art’s traditional devotion to minimalism and nature, and is prevalent in everything from fashion to music.