Confession time: I’m a sucker for anything kawaii. In case you haven’t heard the term before, “kawaii” translates to “cute” — but that’s an over-simplification.
Kawaii is not just an adjective; it’s also a subset of Japanese culture that includes ultra-cute characters like Hello Kitty, Cinnamoroll and Pusheen. When you put it that way, how could you not love all things kawaii?
As an American, I get my kawaii fix from two main sources: stationery and apps. Blippo and Mochithings have got me covered when it comes to stationery — but how can you make your boring smartphone a little more kawaii?
These kawaii self-care apps will add a little bit of light back into your day, making them perfect for a stress-free break from your day — or for cheering up anyone who suffers from depression. Best of all, they take minimal effort to use, meaning they’re accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or mood.
But before we get into the definitively cutest apps for self-care, here are a couple other Japanese terms to brush up on for a better understanding of kawaii culture:
Manga refers to a style of Japanese comic books aimed at either adults or children, but also to the style of artwork used to draw these characters. Manga characters (and the characters in their television equivalent, anime) tend to have large eyes, stereotypical thin figures and wide faces.
Chibi is a Japanese word for describing something short and cute. Chibis are manga characters drawn to have exaggeratedly short and chubby features, making them infinitely more adorable!
Neko is Japanese for “cat.” It can refer to literal cats or cat-like characters in anime or manga.
Now that you’re fluent in kawaii vocabulary, here are the world’s cutest self-care apps to help you unwind!
Sometimes, we need a reminder to care for ourselves and to treat ourselves with compassion — and that’s where Aloe Bud comes in. Aloe Bud is a self-care app that provides gentle reminders on your schedule, pinging you with short messages that remind you to take a deep breath, drink some water and relax. You can choose which activities you want to be reminded of, ranging from gentle stretching to snacking on something yummy, how often and at what times. It’s both cute and customizeable, which is what makes it one of my favorite apps!
Plant Nanny 2
Are you drinking enough water? The average woman needs about 9 cups per day. I don’t know about you — but I definitely wouldn’t drink that much on my own! That’s why I use Plant Nanny 2, the most kawaii app designed to get you to drink more water. In this app, you can grow your very own sunflower, dandelion or desert cactus. To keep it alive, you must log enough water per day to keep your body hydrated. Over time, you can earn seeds to unlock new species, swap for a stylish new flowerpot and even discover cute critters.
#SelfCare is a game with no score, no pressure and no goals, outside of making the world look a little brighter. Your sunshine levels increase as you take part in the different mini games for self-care, like journaling or breathing deeply. You can choose how long you want to play each game for, then return to the bedroom at any time. Plus, the entire room is customizeable, from your skin tone to your cat to your bedspread. You’ve gotta love a kawaii app that encourages you to self-reflect — and one that you can truly make your own.
As a small business owner, I depend on my own productivity. Still, sometimes you need to sit back and take a break from the hustle and bustle of it all — which is why I’m addicted to checking my Neko Atsume app throughout the day. Neko Atsume is an idle cat collector game. Decorate your yard with items purchased from the shop, including food, cat towers, toys and more, to attract cats. Then, wait while the cats flock to your yard. Once you collect a cat, you can snap screenshots to keep in their album as a memento of your time spent together. When a cat leaves, they also leave behind silver and gold fish, which you can use to buy new items — and start the cycle all over again! It’s mindless, but it’s kawaii AF, and if it brings a smile to your face, I think it’s worth it.