I had honestly never heard the word before I moved to Japan, and now it seems to be everywhere. Maybe it's because I'm more aware, but now that I'm about to make you aware, let me know if you start noticing it too.
Kawaii is the Japanese word for cute. I hear it a lot because of my kids' light colored hair and big eyes. Sometimes my neighbors and I used to joke that our kids would think their names were "kawaii".
In Japan, there is a lot of stuff in a little space and in order to fit that stuff in that space, a lot of the stuff is small (and cute). Other stuff is normal sized and just plain cute too. I'm just going to give you three examples of the way the Japanese made one ordinary thing so kawaii:
Have you ever shopped on etsy? The word kawaii seems to be all over it. I'm not kidding, today when I typed "kawaii" into the search engine, I got over 42,000 results. Did you know that little Japanese word was so popular with the crafting world? Neither did I- I see it on independent sites for party supplies, "kawaii decorations" or even fabric shops "kawaii animals". I find it quite interesting how this little word is gaining itself some fame.
Just be careful when using it, especially if you are in Japan, because the word "kowaii" means frightening- you wouldn't want someone to think you thought they were scary instead of cute.