Purikura might be my newest guilty pleasure in Japan. I never cared for picture booths in the states, I always thought they were too expensive for what they gave you. There’s something about Japanese picture booths, known as Purkura, that make that 400 yen worthwhile.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with picture books, but the Japanese take your standard picture booth, and apparently inject it with heart-attack inducing levels of sugar.
Purikura can be found in many places, especially in shopping districts or malls. The best place to find them, however, is in an arcade (which are rampant.) There are some arcades that have just one or two Purikura machines, but the best ones have an entire floor dedicated to the machines.
Yesterday, I went to one with my friend Natalie. I was most surprised by this:
Yes, that is a makeup counter. With curling irons and straighteners. When Natalie and I first arrived it was empty. Maybe no one actually uses them?
Oh wait! Yes, people do use them! Not long after we got there a huge group of girls arrived and began fixing their hair and makeup before they went into the booths.
Now Natalie and I had to decide which booth to use. There were around 10 choices, all promising to make us look different kinds of beautiful.
I enjoyed the tagline for this booth:
In the end, we decided on the “Rumors” booth because it looked like it had the most interested backgrounds and decorations.
Once you enter the booth, things get crazy. You only have a very limited time to take your pictures (like photo booths in other places) but there is also music blaring and bright colors to distract you. There is a computer screen that shows you what you look like, but I am too tall for most of these booths that I have to crouch down all the time, which then makes it difficult to pose quickly.
Before we knew it, the pictures were done. We tried to do a jumping photo, and I jumped right out of the frame.
After you finish taking the pictures, you move to a different section of the booth. This is where you can decorate your pictures. It’s also where you see just how crazy the magic of Purikura can be. Suddenly, your skin is flawless, you eyes a huge and bright, your teeth white and glimmering. But you don’t have time to stare for too long, because there is a countdown on the computer screen for how long you have to edit your pictures. But there are so many choices! You can add stamps, text, crazy backgrounds, you can change your eye color, hair color (which I did a little bit), you can draw directly on the pictures, the options seemed endless. Yet, you have that counter ticking down the seconds! You must frantically edit all your pictures and decide the layout of the pictures in about two minutes. There is no time for messing around!
After you finish, it will require you to move once again to another part of the machine to get your pictures.
As you can see, I look just a liiiiiiitttle prettier than normal…
You can also have the machine email you ONE of the pictures, although it counts down for that too, so you have to be able to type in your email address insanely fast.
Here is the emailed picture (which looks a little nicer than the picture of a picture above)
I definitely recommend doing Purikura at least once if you come to Japan. Just be ready to make fast decisions and try not to be thrown off by the Japanese instructions!