If you have made friends in Japan and have made it “Facebook official,” you may have seen a few profile pictures that look like they have been photoshopped to the umpteenth degree. Their eyes are larger than life, their skin almost sparkles with pearly whiteness, and surrounding their smiling faces are floating images and various words written in neon colors. Where have your Japanese friends gotten these images? They, along with most young people in Japan, took these pictures in special photo booths called “purikura” booths and they are an extremely popular activity for girls, couples, and groups of friends to commemorate their time out together and simply be silly and cute together.
Purikura booths allow you to take an old school photo booth style set of photos for a low price of either 300 or 500 yen, depending on the booth. Purikura is shortened from the name プリント倶楽部 (print club), and is a super fun way to have a little silly fun with your friends and complete your true Japanese experience. Some girls say that they never go out on a shopping trip with their friends without memorializing the experience with a Purikura trip and, boy or girl, man or woman, who can resist being the star of your own photo shoot?
Even if your Japanese is not to at the level of fluency, using a Purikura booth is simple enough that any level of Japanese speaker can use it. To start, just insert the appropriate amount of yen (just like into an arcade game) and step inside the booth. The screen will direct you to which camera you should look at, whether it will be a full body shot or just your face, and of course you will be able to select how big your eyes will be transformed into at this stage.
Once you have finished making all the kissy faces and peace signs you can manage, exit the booth and into the editing area because this is where the real fun and creativity begins. At this stage, the editing screen allow you to add whatever kind of crazy and cute stamps and stickers you want to each individual image. There is also a pen function with which you can write your own sayings directly onto the photographs. Once you have finished making your pictures super sparkly and fun, select the order and arrangement of your best shots.
The editing stage is the final part in the Purikura process. After this, simply hit the completion button on the editing screen and step outside the booth. Just like a photo booth back in the day, your photographs will be printed out on strips of adhesive paper that you can cut up and distribute between you and your friends. A fun aspect is that your Purikura pictures also double as stickers!
If you pass a game center or an alcove of Purikura booths, be sure to stop in! It is a cheap and fun activity to remember your time in Japan!