Purikura

Walk into any arcade or mall- or simply down any shopping street in Japan- and you’ll probably find flocks of teenage girls huddled around photo booth machines called purikura. It’s no surprise that teen girls love taking photos of themselves, but Japan has created a market just for that.

A typical sheet of purikura photos. And yes, that's me with the long red hair!

A typical sheet of purikura photos. And yes, that’s me with the long red hair!

Purikura, shortened for “print club” in Japanese, are definitely unique. For a few hundred yen (usually around $2-$5), you can take photo booth pictures, print them out, and send them to your mobile devices. However, the main attraction of purikura is that you can edit the photos before you save them.

I abused using the cat ear sticker for this one.

I abused using the cat ear sticker for this one.

To use a purikura machine, you simply enter your money on the outside of the booth, and then move into the studio. It’s usually equipped with a green screen to stand in front of, a shelf to put your purses down on, and a huge screen to see exactly what you look like. The purikura machine will snap several photos of you before you move to a separate editing booth.

Outside of a purikura machine

Outside of a purikura machine

My favorite arcade in Shibuya had literally a dozen purikura machines. Take your pick!

My favorite arcade in Shibuya had literally a dozen purikura machines. Take your pick!

Here’s where the real magic happens. Purikura booths are equipped with special cameras and Photoshop-like functions that automatically make your skin look perfectly airbrushed and beautiful, and even increase the size of your eyes. For us foreigners, this sometimes made us look a little alien, but luckily you can adjust these functions so you don’t look like a model version of ET.

Notice our flawless, glowing skin! I could get used to this.

Notice our flawless, glowing skin! I could get used to this.

Do you want a kawaii (cute) face, or a cool face?

Do you want a kawaii (cute) face, or a cool face?

DSC_0693From there on out, the options are endless. Purikura have options for adding fake eyelashes, blush, eyeliner, and more. You can make your legs look longer, change your hair color, or even slim your face. With purikura, it’s easy to look like a model or celebrity.

You use a touch screen and a stylus to edit purikura

You use a touch screen and a stylus to edit purikura

DSC_6110Depending on the theme of the booth (from Vogue to Japanese pop singers, like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu), users also have options to add a variety of stickers, frames, and cute backgrounds. You can add time stamps, cute messages, or even draw on the pictures themselves. I loved adding cat ears and bows to all of my pictures.

Purikura advertisement. Don't you want to look like that?

Purikura advertisement. Don’t you want to look like that?

"Girls are sensitive to cute things! That's why they are so selfish!" WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, PURIKURA?

“Girls are sensitive to cute things! That’s why they are so selfish!” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, PURIKURA?

Finally, once you’re done pur-fecting your purikura, you choose a layout for your pictures and print them out. Many girls cut them up and use them as stickers on their phones, but I just enjoyed keeping them as memories.

Purikura from the one date I had in Japan. If you're reading this Hikaru, you were cute. Call me.

Purikura from the one date I had in Japan. If you’re reading this Hikaru, you’re cute. Call me.

Purikura is great for girls looking to take cute photos, friends enjoying a night out, or even couples going on a date. Do you think you’d enjoy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

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3 thoughts on “Purikura

    • I’m sure they’re a lot more expensive to install and maintain than regular photo booths. I’ve never seen one in the US, but I wonder if they would be popular here!

  1. I like the idea that photos can be “edited” but I find it just a little over the top. I like photos that are “funny and real”. This seems like you can get extremely caught up in fantasy images. Sorry, it also reminds me of elementary school girls;-(

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