Japanese Photo Booth (Purikura) for Dummies

This article will help you find out what japanese photo booth (purikura) is, how to take purikura, where to take purikura and which are the best and newest machines

Japanese photo booths and photo stickers are widely known as “purikura”. It is the shortened form of purinto kurabu (プリントクラブ) which literally means “print club” and is a registered trademark of Atlus – the company that made the first photo machine in 1995. Though in the past these photo machines were so simple that they had nothing but photo frames, nowadays new features are continuously added such as: directly writing on the photos, numerous presets, background music, video taking, etc. Purikura machines can be found anywhere from modern department stores  and game centers in Tokyo to the traditional streets in Kyoto. Purikura is a cheap way to keep your memory alive while having fun with your family, friends or lover. This article will provide you with an instructions on how to take purikura, some suggestions of where to take purikura and the best and newest purikura machines.

Photo Credit: lawtonjm via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: lawtonjm via Flickr cc

No solo man allowed. Photo Credit: Meredith P. via Flickr cc

No solo man allowed. Photo Credit: Meredith P. via Flickr cc

Be aware: A group of only men are not allowed to enter Purikura areas. Because the majority of Purikura takers are female, there is a possible chance of sexual harassment at game centers or photo shops where many girls flock to to take pictures. If you are a guy who wants to try Japanese photo booth, you should make sure that you have at least one female companion. 

How to take purikura 

Step 1. Renting a costume

Photo Credit: Charlotte Marillet via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Charlotte Marillet via Flickr cc

There are many purikura shops offering costumes and props rental services for free or for a cheap price (200 yen ~). This is called “cosupuri”(コスプリ) in Japanese which is a combination of cosplay and purikura. Costumes provided vary from maids, school uniforms, bunnies to colorful wigs and animal ear accessories. Renting costumes is a way to make your purikura experience more fun and memorable. After choosing the costume and paying for it at the counter, you can go to the dressing room to change and get ready for your photo shoot. 

Step 2. Choosing a machine

Photo Credit: Laurent Neyssensas via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Laurent Neyssensas via Flickr cc

The next step is to choose a machine, probably the hardest task due to the variety of options available. Be aware that each machine has its own style or theme (sweet and cute, cool and stylish, elegant and sexy etc), different types of shots (full body, half body, portrait etc), background sets, and different features. If you are not sure which one to go for yet, walk around and take a look at different machines. Normally, the facade of the purikura machines is full of pictures and explanations which will give you basic a idea of what kind of photos it is taking, what its style is and what its special feature is (if it has any). Furthermore, all of the purikura booths will make your eyes bigger, legs longer, body thinner, hair softer and your skin smoother and whiter. Be warned, some machines may exaggerate these changes too much and make you look almost unreal, so pay attention to that too! One tip to make your choice easier is to go for the machines which have people queuing because those are definitely the most popular in the store. 

Step 3. Shooting

Photo Credit: Jon Åslund via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Jon Åslund via Flickr cc

Phew…It’s finally time to take photos! 

Though you are most likely to start choosing photo modes inside the booth, keep in mind that sometimes you may have to start at the touch screen outside first before going into the booth. As soon as you get in, put your bags or jacket down in the luggage storage area and do a final check on your appearance. Once you are all set, put the required amount of money in (normally 300 – 500 yen). If you do not have enough 100 yen coins, you can change your bills easily from the machine outside. 

Once you put your money in, the machine will start very fast! Depending on the machine, you will have to choose the mode (2 people or a group of people), type your name in, choose the backgrounds or photo styles, choose the size of your eyes and color of your skin, etc. You will have around 10-15 seconds to make your decision.

After that, you will have to pose and look into the camera. On the screen, there will be a recommended pose sample for you to follow if you are not a very professional poser. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SCREEN if you want to avoid weird pictures in which you are looking somewhere else instead of looking straight.  You will have around 3-5 seconds to pose for each photo and you can hear the shutter sound after the photo is taken. Before moving to the next photo, you will be able to quickly review the photo you have just taken. Purikura is very fast and there is no retake so it will take some time for you to adapt and become a purikura master.

Step 4. Editing

Photo Credit: Laurent Neyssensas via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Laurent Neyssensas via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Antonio Fucito via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Antonio Fucito via Flickr cc

After taking photos, you will have to move from the shooting booth to the editing booth where all of the magic happens. You can take a seat and start decorating your photos using stylus and touch screen. Generally, the screen is divided into 2 halves so 2 people can edit at the same time though not the same photo. Similar to the shooting booth, there is a time limit for editing, though should you run out of time prematurely, additional time will be added. However, there is no extra time when the booth is crowded. 

Usually there will be 6 different tabs: 

1. イベント / Event or スペシャル/ Special: Some special decorations which are only available in this photo booth or during this specific time (Chirstmas, Halloween, etc.)

2. ペン/ Pen: You can use your stylus to write straight on your photo. Color, size and brushing shape are adjustable. This is a must-use feature if you want your purikura to look more “professional” and Japanese.

3. オススメ/ Recommend: Decorations suggested to you by the producer.

4. スタンプ/ Stamp: Numerous interesting stamps and stickers that you can add to your photos. You can also adjust the size of the stickers or rotate them before using.

5. メッセージ/ Message: Some stickers that include messages or sentences for you to put on your photos such as: “Today is a great day!” or the specific date.

6. メイク/ Makeup: You can alter your appearance even more by putting on makeup (lipstick, eye liners, blush, etc.) or even dye your hair!

On the side or in the middle of screen, you can find these buttons: はじめから – it will erase everything that you did on that photo so be careful, もどる / 戻る – undo, すすむ – redo. That’s all you need to know. Now, be creative!

Step 5. Printing

Photo Credit: Amy Jane Gustafson via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Amy Jane Gustafson via Flickr cc

This is the last step of taking purikura. You will have to move to the printing screen outside of the booth and choose the sticker style (what your photo sticker is going to look like), the number of photos you want (2 people, 3-4 people, or bigger group). In addition, you have an option of sending the photo to your mail so that you can keep the digital version. However, only users of Au, Docomo or Softbank can download the photos.

Once your photos are printed, you can use the scissors attached to the machine or available at the counter to divide the photo stickers (if needed). Now you can take a look at the photos that you have just taken and see how different you look! 

Where to take purikura

Adores (アドアーズ)

Provided by Foursquare

Provided by Foursquare

Adores is an amusement arcade which has a variety of game machines, UFO catchers, and of course purikura machines. In Tokyo, you can easily find Adores stores around the major stations: Shinjuku (新宿), Ikebukuro (池袋), Shibuya (渋谷), Ueno (上野) and Akihabara (秋葉原).

Address: For detailed information of each store (location, opening hours), please click here.

Rental costumes: Available.

Club Sega (クラブ セガ)

Provided by Foursquare

Provided by Foursquare

Similar to Adores, Club Sega is a famous game center where you have many options of Purikura machines. The major areas where it is located are Shinjuku (新宿), Ikebukuro (池袋), Shibuya (渋谷), Akihabara (秋葉原), Yoyogi (代々木), Odaiba (お台場). 

Address: For detailed information of each store (location, opening hours), please click here.

Rental costumes: Available in Ikebukuro, Akihabara, Shibuya store. 

Purikura No Mecca (プリクラのメッカ)

Purikura no Mecca is the “mecca” for taking purikura as they not only have many machines, but a whole floor for changing and photo props rental for free, which will surely fulfill your purikura desire. 

Address: 29-1 3F Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours: 24 hours

Rental costumes: Available (props)

Purikura Shop Noa (プリクラショップNOA)

Opened about 10 years ago when Purikura was still quite a new term in Japan, Purikura Shop Noa was the first in Harajuku dedicated to purikura, with 17 different machines and proper changing rooms. The machines available can be checked here.

Address: 1-17-5  Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours: 8:00-23:30

Rental costumes: Not available

Eggnam (エグナム)

Eggnam belongs to Bandai Namco and its concept is: “The second school for high school girls” – so unsurprisingly the main target customers are high schoolers. Costumes as well as makeup items are available for rent.

Address: 1-19-9  Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours: 10:00-22:00

Rental costumes: Available

Brooming Harajuku in Alta Building (ブルーミング)

Brooming is produced by Taito – a big amusement producer located in the Alta Building in Harajuku. If you want to do cosplay, this is the place to go as there are about 20 different choices of costumes for you to choose and rent for free. Brooming aims at keeping its store a cute and happy place for customers.

Address: 1-16-4  Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Opening hours: 10:30-20:00

Rental costumes: Available for free

Some best and newest purikura machines

Wonder beat

What makes this machine unique is its background music and its distinctive feature – puri MV. You can choose your favorite background music that will be played when you are taking photos. At the end, you can film your own 15-second music video which can be downloaded effortlessly from the internet using the ID printed on your photo sticker.  The photos are also quite natural and the decorations offered make your photos more stylish.

Location: Adores Shibuya

Barbie your doll

Barbie your doll is a brand new Barbie themed photo booth that enables you to put yourself in a box just like Barbie and Ken. Both single mode and couple mode are available. The sticker designs are so innovative that it cannot be mistaken with any other machine. This photo booth is suitable for girls who wants to look cute and sweet or couples who want to try something new. 

Location: Adores Shibuya

Up

Up claims to make your skin as smooth as a baby and make your hair look nice and soft. Besides that, Up also provides 2 notable new functions that cannot be found in any other machine: you can make a mischievous short gif as well as hand-write on the sticker frame. This machine is perfect if you want to shoot something unique to share with your friends. This machine will be released from July 2016. 

Katy2

Katy2 is also a new machine that will be available from July 2016. Just as the beauty trend for Asian girls these day is V-line face, Katy2 allows users to adjust their face line from round – which looks cuter, to sharp – which looks more beautiful. By taking purikura in this machine, girls will be able to achieve a sweet, innocent image.

#FASHIONisM02 

#FASHIONisM02 is probably going to create a revolution in the sticker designs as the machine does not follow the traditional frames. Instead, it looks much more fashionable with some full body shots and several cutouts to stress on certain clothing items. This machine is most suitable for fashionistas who want to show off their carefully chosen clothing. Similar to Up and Katy2, you can start taking purikura with this machine from July 2016.

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