So I’ve come to realize that Purikura （プリクラ）is the epitome of Japanese pop culture.
For those of you who don’t know, purikura is a sort of Japanese photo booth. And I say photo booth because in all technicality it IS a photo booth – just much better. The official name プリクラis supposed to be derived from the English term “Print Club” (Purinto Kurabu/プリント倶楽部. In any case, no one recognizes the trademarked name – neither I nor Ryosuke has ever heard anyone refer to it that way. But enough about the name.
|This is a purikura booth|
Purikura has been around since 1995 – and as said before – it is a legend. Like most aspects of pop culture – purikura thrives through teenagers and young couples. Much like how American couples and groups of friends used to take silly photos in the photo booth (or so I’ve learned from TV. I wasn’t “alive” in that era – although Ryosuke and I did take pictures at the photo booth at the NASA Center in Houston… mostly because Ryosuke doesn’t believe the moon landings ever happened and I think he’s ridiculous. We took ironic pictures, with the cute little man on the moon at the top. But I probably wouldn’t do that again.)
|The highlight of this picture is the little Nasa man on the picture|
So what’s the difference between purikura and an old-fashioned photo booth? Everything, really. So here is a step-by-step guide on how to use a purikura machine. I think I really like these “How To” posts.
1. Find a machine. Machines usually specialize in something. Some make your skin darker, some lighter; some make your face smooth; some make your eyes huge. As a general rule of thumb, white people should usually avoid the latter. Huge eyes can look cute on most people, but I already have somewhat large eyes, so those purikura booths just make me look ridiculous – as seen below.
|I know big eyes are supposed to be cute, but those things are like half my head now!|
2. Go in with your friends. The “friends” suggestion isn’t really a suggestion. In some instances it’s a must. I know we all love to be narcissistic, and as tempting as it might be to take model shots by yourself at a purikura booth (especially since honestly, purikura makes everyone look fantastic) – don’t do it. Especially if you’re a guy. You can actually get arrested/kicked out. I’ve heard of that happening – no joke.
|They don’t joke. They even have warning signs.|
3. Pay 400 yen (about 5 dollars). I’ve never found a booth that charges more or less. I might be wrong – but I think it’s a pretty standard procedure.
6. Do some crazy poses. I love making hearts and/or looking crazy. Depending on the booth, it will take 6-10 pictures. The background is usually always a green-screen, so be wary of wearing a green shirt – you might turn out looking like a floating head. In any case, try to mix up the poses a bit, it can be a little boring if it’s just 6 shots of the same pose.
|With some of my host mothers from my last trip to Japan. For some of them, it was their FIRST time doing purikura!!|
7. Decorating time! After you finish taking picture, an arrow will appear on the front screen in the booth. Follow the arrow (either left or right) to the side of the booth to decorate your pictures. The pictures you just took will appear on an electronic screen with two magnetic “pens” attached by a little wire (like the pens at the bank – when they don’t want you to steal them). Decorate your images. Unfortunately, most of the directions are in Japanese. So unless you can read Japanese, you kind of just have to guess what each section is. That being said, I didn’t read Japanese my first year at ALL and never had a problem. They will have a pen, some stickers, fake glasses, random accessories, characters, and SO MANY other things to add to each picture.
|I’m not joking. Every single booth keeps the pens nice and safe.|
Be wary though, you only have a limited time to finish your purikura (it all depends on how many/if anyone else is using the booth).
8. Print your photos- but then again, this happens automatically. Once you finish decorating, you leave the curtained enclosure, and go to the end of the booth. From there you have the option of sending one (or two) of the photos to your cell phone (and from there you can upload them onto facebook or send by email). At the bottom, in a little slot, the pictures will print onto a regular 5X7 inch piece of photo paper.
And, of course, by regular, I mean not at all. The purikura are actually small stickers that you can cut out and stick onto anything. I, for instance, put mine on my laptop, cellphone, ipod, and most recently my kindle (Best birthday present ever). I hear that young Japanese girls like to keep entire pocket albums with the stickers in it and/or trade the pictures around. I just like to keep them for a rainy day.
|And electronic directory (at the purikura booth) of previous purikura sessions.|
9.And then, last but not least, don’t take pictures at the purikura booth. I thought they were joking with all the “no pictures” signs. Apparently they’re not. So if a security guard happens to see you and your boyfriend taking pictures of a booth so you can blog about it, he will be mean and kick you out of the whole store.
That is, of course, unless you run away first.
|Me, at the booth, moments before the security guard was on us.|