Purikura: Things I love about Japan

I love Purikura. Taken from the words プリント倶楽部 purinto kurabu (literally Print club), Purikura are colorful sticker pictures you can take inside a futuristic booth. For only 400yen (some older machines in 100 yen shops and shady parts of town only cost 100yen – 200yen), you can get your picture taken in these fantastic picture booths.

But no, Purkikura is no ordinary picture booth. Just like Japan, they took something cool (like a photo booth) and made it insane (by adding crazy backgrounds, special effects, and allowing you to decorate at will).

They look like this:

Japanese purikura Japan

Reasons I love taking Japanese purikura:

1. It makes me look incredibly hot – in a psychotic Barbie sort of way

I had a friend who used to go out and take solo purikura every weekend. It was a little weird. Every Friday afternoon she would dress up nice, slather on the makeup, and walk down to the station to take solo purikura. She had a whole book of “glamour shots” in her room – she showed it to me last time I visited.

puri5 puri9 purikura japan

I’ve never been that extreme. I draw a line on solo purikura.

But, you know, I can’t blame her. I understand it – purikura makes you look really hot (in a psychotic Barbie sort of way). Look at those eyes. Look at that smooth, flawless skin. Also, try to figure out which ones are guys and which ones are girls in this picture.

2. Umm, they’re stickers. Stickers are awesome.

After you take the photos and decorate them electronically, they print out on a normal 4in X 6in sheet of sticker photo paper. They are little rectangular stickers – with a glossy finish. They will last about four months without fading on a phone and several years on a laptop.

How to take Purikura (プリクラ)

Where do I put my purikura? On my laptop, back of my phone, on my kindle, or a letter is sent to my fiancé, on my iPod, and on the corner of the compact mirror in my makeup. I also have a purikura book of pictures and a small golden box in my room with extra pictures.

When I’m bored, I like to go through the pictures, remembering all the great times.

3. It is a fun memento of that one time you dressed up really, really nicely on a date/shopping with friends.

Most of the time when I go out with friends, I take purikura at the end. It’s fun. It’s great for laughs. It looks even better on facebook.

puri9 purikura japan

I don’t dress nicely all the time – but if you just looked at my purikura, you would never be able to tell.

4. You can look on the Purikura, fondly remembering “Wow, I used to look GOOD”

Hint – no one actually looks as good as the Purikura claims. It’s like a nice, professional, white lie so you feel better about your awkward teen years. I have a couple strands of purikura back when I was an acne-ridden pre-teen with hair the color (and consistency) of a lion’s mane. I have pictures. I also have purikura.

puri12 purikura

The purikura looks much better than the pictures. The purikura makes me look like a supermodel – not a gorgeous supermodel, more like a ‘slightly below average’ supermodel – the regular pictures make me look like a sad, cat lady.

5. The decorations for purikura get better and better every year

Back when I was 14 in Hokkaido (seven years ago), they made a way you could put (crappy) hats and sunglasses during the decorating phase. It was big. They also made some shiny sections that would print out colorful.

My friends and I were psyched – we went out and took purikura like mad women. To be fair, we were kind of crazy.

How to take Purikura (プリクラ)

Now, seven years later, you can add blush, makeup, fake eyelashes and other accessories to the picture – while making it look super natural. They have built-in whitening and tanning effects (since everyone seems to either want really light or really tan skin). You can pick your backgrounds during the decoration phase. You can press a button to make your eyes appear even bigger (which sucks for white people – because face it, our eyes are already HUGE). You can change your hair color. You can add colored contacts.

My kids are going to look back at my purikura and be like “wow mom, your purikura is so weird. You couldn’t change your skin color, hairstyle, or print out 3-D pictures? Laaaaame.” (my future children will probably be ungrateful little creatures)

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is purikura is always changing. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

puri puri9 purikura japan

6. Cosplay purikura.


You can dress up as a school girl, as a maid, as a sexy cop, or as an Anime character. The cosplay purikura places are spread out throughout the country – in the hidden nooks and crannies of the Anime world. The only two places I’ve found are at Hep5 in Osaka and the large game center in front of the Electric Town exit in Akihabara.

maid cosplay purikura


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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

1 Comment on Purikura: Things I love about Japan

  1. Hey, Grace. When I see all your pictures… are you on Instagram, btw? That would be great!

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