Lights, Camera, and Japanese Photobooths

By July 07, 2015 , , ,

In Japan, girls are experts at taking selfies. From the pose, to the lighting, and the angle - they've got it down to an art. Naturally, their love for pictures come from somewhere right?

Before the invention of the front-facing camera, there was something called the puripika machine, which is essentially a fancy name for photobooth. But a worthy name too. This isn't your normal photobooth, nope. It's like an editing app combined with a photobooth, that prints your pictures on the spot and makes them into stickers. 


One thing I loved doing when I was younger was going to First Markham Place in Toronto, where my friends and I would pay extravagant amounts of money for these tiny little pieces of captured memories that we'd carry with us everywhere. As these stores have phased out over the years due to the increasingly popular presence of the front cam, it has become harder and harder to find a proper and authentic Japanese photobooth.

What makes these booths different from normal ones, you may ask.

Well firstly, they're Japanese, which means that unless you can speak and read Japanese - prepared to be lost. Thankfully, it's not a huge deal to navigate the system, everything's pretty graphic and easy to understand, despite the language barrier. Secondly, each photobooth has a different style. Some are 'cute and innocent', while others are 'lolita style'. This means that the backgrounds are different, the angle of the camera is different, and the editing process is different. 

Here we've got a 'Fashion' booth a la Vogue magazine on the left, and a babydoll one on the right.

The options are endless when it comes to customization. Unlike typical american booths, you can choose backgrounds, different types of shots (full body, upper body, group etc), and the layout of your printout (more wallet sized, or more coin sized pictures). Getting into the part which REALLY sets it apart, are the editing features, which are pretty much what you would find in an asian editing app - skin whitening or darkening, eye enlargement or reduction, etc, which are all things that reflect the Asian notions of ideal beauty standards. Very interesting. 

Being in the land of Japanese photobooths, Tiffany and I ventured into a basement on the streets of Harajuku and picked a machine to pop into. They're much cheaper in Japan (400 yen), compared to places in Hong Kong or even Canada, where a round in the photobooth costs anywhere from 12-20 dollars Canadian. 

After we had taken our photos in the booth, we moved to the other side of the machine where there was a bench for us to sit on, facing a screen. This is where the editing happens - and also where my inadequacy in Japanese is highlighted. Clicking on random buttons always leads somewhere, thankfully, and here you can add stickers, writing, and make further adjustments to the picture (hair color change, eye color change etc). 

At the end, you wait at the side of the machine, and eventually a sheet of photos pop out. We chose the two person option, so we were each able to keep a full set of photos.

Japanese photobooths are a fun time and definitely an interesting experience. For those of you who are like me and don't speak any Japanese whatsoever, it's an interesting experience to learn how to navigate the system blindly. Otherwise, it is also an interesting reflection of their culture and beauty ideals.

Who would have thought that all this can be found inside a photobooth?


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2 Lovely Replies

  1. I wish the photobooths in the states were as elaborate and fun! T__T The regular ones here are still fun, but I want to experience a puripika machine at least once! :D Your photos look so cute! I feel as though I would personally spend like hours or something editing/navigating my photos! lol

    1. It's definitely easy to spend an afternoon there. There's still some random machines floating around in the states (cali?) but they're so expensive to upkeep, most people have given up on trying to make a profit using them. The regular ones are still fun, I agree, but it's much more fun clicking random buttons with friends, and adding weird stickers on their faces! haha