本文將以歷史文化的角度探究日本藝術家森萬里子（Mariko Mori, 1967-）的重要性，以及森萬里子在1990年代如何以藝術明星的姿態在國際間嶄露頭角。1995年森萬里子首次於紐約藝廊展出後，即迅速享有盛名並成為二十世紀末全球化日本的代表人物。當年她展出了《日本製造》(Made in Japan)系列，以廣告看版大小的彩色照片，顯示自己身穿各種可愛的、如電玩遊戲角色般的未來服裝。我認為森萬里子的《日本製造》系列作品是在日本創作，並且於歷史中一個非常特殊的時刻，接收於西方主導的藝術世界。在這個時刻，國際開始將當代日本藝術與流行文化視為日本軟實力的象徵和要素。大部分對於此系列作品的重要書寫皆出版於1990年代末，然而有問題的是，其中西方的著作顯露了對於森萬里子如何使用當代日本文化指涉的理解尚未成熟且欠缺均衡。我將在本文中檢視此西方藝術界的接收，並且提供一個逆向的詮釋，分析《日本製造》中的照片與日本流行文化的關係，特別討論森萬里子藝術與個人形象中所具備的「可愛」此日本大眾文化的美學。在這個過程中，我將提供森萬里子與日本流行的動畫人物的類比，特別是美少女戰士。為了進一步的論證日本當代藝術與流行文化潮流的相關性，我將解釋村上隆（Takashi Murakami, 1962-）如何在1990年代繼森萬里子的全盛期後崛起，代表了日本的全球化形象由商品文化的「可愛」夢境轉移到「酷」夢境。
This essay offers a cultural-historical exploration of the significance of the Japanese artist Mariko Mori (b. 1967) and her emergence as an international art star in the 1990s. After her New York gallery debut show in 1995, in which she exhibited what would later become known as her Made in Japan series—billboard-sized color photographs of herself striking poses in various “cute,” video-game avatar-like futuristic costumes—Mori quickly rose to stardom and became the poster child for a globalizing Japan at the end of the twentieth century. I argue that her Made in Japan series was created (in Japan) and received (in the Western-dominated art world) at a very specific moment in history, when contemporary Japanese art and popular culture had just begun to rise to international attention as emblematic and constitutive of Japan's soft power. While most of the major writings on the series were published in the late 1990s, problematically the Western part of this criticism reveals a nascent and quite uneven understanding of the contemporary Japanese cultural references that Mori was making and using. I will examine this reception, and offer a counter-interpretation, analyzing the relationship between Mori's Made in Japan photographs and Japanese pop culture, particularly by discussing the Japanese mass cultural aesthetic of kawaii (“cute”) in Mori's art and persona. In so doing, I proffer an analogy between Mori and popular Japanimation characters, especially Sailor Moon. To further argue for a correlation between contemporary Japanese art and pop culture trends, I will explain how the rise of Takashi Murakami (b. 1962) following Mori's heyday in the 1990s, embodies the shift of Japan's global image from “cute” to the “cool” dreamland of commodity culture.