You pile your group inside the white-walled booth, arrange yourself in silly or cute poses, and then try not to blink at the blinding light. Change poses before the cutesy, girly voice alerts you to the next flash, and freeze. When you’re done, you can go into a little nook on the other side of the booth where there is a computer. There you can peruse your photos, pick which ones to keep, determine the sizes you want, and enter your phone number to have the pictures sent to your mobile. More importantly, you can decorate your photos with silly stamps, little icons, and even draw on them with various colors of pen. Some have sparkles and some are kind of glow-y. The icons can include little bows, mustaches, polka dots, hearts, pre-designed words, animals, you name it. Then the little machine spits out your printed versions, which are tiny, some not even a square-inch in size, and sticky on the back. A table nearby provides customers with scissors to cut out the pictures and divide them among friends. Peel back the protective layer from the sticky side, and affix your quirky images to cell phones, laptops, notebooks, your face, wherever you want.
These booths are called purikura, which is short for purinto kurabu, which are the words “print club” put into Japanese sounds. These booths are immensely popular, and you can find them in every single mall, outside popular restaurants or attractions, in movie theaters, etc. And you don’t just find one. You find a whole forest just stocked with different purikura machines. Each one offers slightly different goodies. Some even have an option to make it seem like you’re wearing makeup like blush and mascara.
While we were there we did purikura at least three times. Eventually I learned to take off my glasses to get a better effect. Sometimes it’s hard to fit everyone in the picture, especially with any group over four people, so try taking turns being in the middle. The cost is between 800 and 1500 yen, depending on how fancy you want to get or how many photos you want, but the price isn’t bad if you split it between people. This is definitely an experience I’d recommend to anyone visiting Japan. It’s silly and unique, and the photos actually make great souvenirs. I have a couple stuck onto my laptop. They are a constant reminder of the wonderful people I met in Japan, and how much fun we had together.
Have you ever taken purikura photos? Do they have something similar in your country? What do you think of the special effects they use to change your appearance? Let me know in the comments!