Purikura screenshot by yam kaija on her fotola. I give credit where credit is due!
You can’t talk about Japanese schoolgirls, much less write a blog about them without talking about the phenom of sticker pictures, Print Club, or better still, Purikura. According to Wikipedia, the first machines were developed jointly by Atlus (go Persona!) and Sega (go Outrun) in 1995, and have been hugely popular ever since. Lots of fashion magazines made for the high school/young adult set has pages dedicated to showcasing their models taking various purikura pictures. Japanese schoolgirls often have their own purikura photobooks, which are filled with all the various sticker pics they taken, so they can show off and trade with friends. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the Japanese Seventeen magazine and see these books before my eyes. I mean, they are HUGE. And kogal/ganguro magazines like Egg and Teen Girl show off very tanned girls and they ikeman boyfriends showing off in starry background photos, while giving detailed instructions of where to find such machines all over Shibuya and Harajuku. (Going off-topic a moment, even the gosuloli set have their own purikura backgrounds. It’s that popular, folks.) I read on Wikipedia that some purikura owners even have items that people can rent for use with the purikura, like wigs and props and all sorts of things. Only in Japan, I say.
Listen to actual Schoolgirls explain purikura!
There are purikura enthusiasts out here in the west, especially those schoolgirl admirers I’m writing for, but unless you are really lucky, or live out west, you’re out of luck. I’m one of the lucky ones. J-Toys in Arlington Heights, Illinois actually has one of the more recent styles of purikura machines made for about five people. It costs about three dollars last time I tried (in Japan, it’s between 300 to 600 yen), and it has a touch screen so you can choose photos and even write a message to be printed on the photos. It’s a completely customizable experience. Wikipedia says that J-Pop plays while you’re getting the shot together (the one if J-Toys didn’t have that, i think), so it’s really an experience people get into. Otherwise, you’re stuck with those sticker pic machines that look like they came from 1995. You stand at a booth with a curtain, you pic a background, and you take a picture. Whoop-de-do. Your purikura booklet will have no pizzazz whatsoever.
Schoolgirls are into this big time. Whatever little money they have, they spend on this pictures in order to update their purikura books. According to Wikipedia, a “trait of Print Club machines is to have different frames (the picture that surrounds the photo taken) distributed around different machines in different parts of Japan, meaning that sufficiently motivated people can go around and get their picture taken at all of them to collect all the frames.” Plus, you can customize the message in the photo, so no two pictures or their messages are alike. Not exactly something that encourages schoolgirls to save their yen for a rainy day, right?
And the most interesting part about Purikura isn’t just the picture, but the messages you can write on it as well. I remember going to the Mitsuwa Marketplace while J-Toys was still there, and seeing a pole filled with purikura people put on there (a memory wall maybe?), and all the messages they wrote. Some people created a makeshift with the the sensor pen in the booth. Most of the messages were in Japanese, but by looking at the faces, I bet they were meant to be funny. The English messages were certainly goofy. The ones I see in the magazines are in japanese, but you will catch “Engrish” every now and again, from the innocent couple’s “4th anniversary” to something I can’t even begin to comprehend.
Purikura has been around 11 years and it’s here to stay, which is common knowledge among schoolgirls and kogals.
Or is it? Now there’s videkura. Gentlemen, start your nosebleeds. In the future, booths will now be able to create, edit, and customize videos for the internet or mobile phones (you know, because Japanese schoolgirl phones rock, but that’s another post). Up to three people can be in the booth and create their own three-minute music video of sorts (which I’m sure people will be begging for others to download onto youtube).
Speaking of youtube, here is a demonstration video I found:
I wonder if i get to see these actual videos…