Thursday, January 13, 2011

How many lolitas can you fit . . .

Lolitas cram into a purikura booth at PMX 2009. At least two more lolitas snuck in after this photo!
(And there's another out of view! So nine?)
 Most people are familiar with photo booths. You see them at carnivals, amusement parks, and even in malls. The idea behind them is simple: put in money, get instant photos. It's a fun, quick way to capture memories with friends, and share them around.

Because of a resurgence in nostalgia-based consumerism, these photo booths are once again popping up in malls and public spaces, which brings us to today's topic: purikura booths. These sparkly, graphic-coated machines are becoming more visible of late, and though they've been around a while, it looks like lolitas are still flocking to them.

Photo care of Dani and Amy of Dallas!
What the sparkle is purikura?
Purikura takes the photobooth concept a bit further, by enhancing the images with hand-written text, graphics and customizable frames. They're typically on the overexposed side (machines do let you control this, though!), to make eyes look bigger, skin look smoother, and to generally make the images more "fun" and "bright".

Purikura images are printed (typically) on sticker paper, which can come in different sizes. When you print the images, you generally get to choose how the photos are distributed, so that everyone can take a few home!

The name is derived from a shortening of the Engrish phrase "purinto kurabu", or "print club". This particular take on photo booths originated in Japan, but has since spread through out the world. In Houston, I can name two shops that house Korean versions of the machines, and have heard of at least two other arcade-style establishments which have booths as well.

In some cities, whole storefronts will be dedicated to purikura, with multiple machines lined up for customers to use. In these circumstances, the machines are not just there to handle the volume of customers, but also often have different themes. The graphics will vary somewhat between these machines, as well as in the formats in which you can print out your photos.

It is not uncommon for anime conventions and related events to rent out purikura machines from local owners, these days. They will often be parked near the DDR machines or other arcade boxes, located in or near the dealers' room, and be available for convention visitors to use at their leisure.

Regardless of where they're located, purikura is a fun way that some lolitas spend time. In cities where the machines are readily available, some groups will dedicate a whole meet-up to using the machines, with a pause along the way for lunch or snacks. Some machines almost seem like they are dedicated specifically to lolita use, with sparkly princess graphics, bows, ribbons and crowns galore.

Some tips for coming out of the booth sparkly and bright:
  1. Put on that make-up! If you know ahead of time that you're going to be doing purikura with friends, put on some make-up. Photography in general tends to downplay make-up, so don't be afraid to put it on a bit heavier than usual. Because the booths tend to brighten your face, they can also obliterate your eyelashes and any color that might be in your lips.
  2. Move fast! Most booths let you do multiple backgrounds and poses, but you have to change places quickly in order to manage it. Be quick, and when the timer comes up, be ready!
  3. Bust your personal bubble! If you're not comfortable cramming into a small space with these other people, you may want to stand aside for this activity, or find a booth to share with just one or two other friends. Because everyone is dashing around frantically to get into their pose in a tight space, there can be some accidental (or intentional!) brushing of body parts.
  4. Write first, decorate after! When you're decorating the photos, be sure to write whatever you so desire on the photos before you cover them in graphics. Purikura machines tend to have timers on their decoration phase to push customers along, and you don't want to end up with a half-written message on your photo! It's also good to assign two particular people to decorate if you're in a large group, and just dictate how things should look. It saves time in passing the pen, and your timer is less likely to run out.
  5. Bring scissors! Most purikura machines spit out solid sheets, so you'll need something to cut them up if you're sharing photos. (ETA: HSP has informed me that purikura shops will often have scissors for you to use upon request.)
  6. Download your images! If possible, download the images from the machine onto your phone or PDA so that you can share them out to everyone in the group. Quite a few of the machines are Bluetooth enabled, so you can zap the images to any storage device you happen to have with you. Just make sure that you're connected ahead of time, because there's usually a timer (just like everything else purikura machines do).

So what if I'm in a purikura-less zone?
Purikura is mostly about the experience (in my opinion), but if you want to just achieve the look of the images and don't have a purikura machine in your area, you can achieve a similar effect using websites like PuriCute or PuriCam. You can also download borders, brushes and filters for Photoshop and other photo editing programs to create your own custom effects. Online purikura has the added bonus of animation as well!

Just print the results out on glossy sticker paper, and you're good to go!



I love purikura, there's only one place with a couple machines near me but I like to go for special occasions :3


lol. For a moment, I thought you were titling your post as "How many Lolitas can you fit in a Jazz?" (this refers to an Australian car commercial. You should watch some on youtube if you haven't already) XD


Fun!! :D I wish we had one close by!

Mister Sharaf

great post


I looove purikura but I haven't seen any for a long time now, idk why x_x


I love these so much, but I haven't gotten to use one in forever. My friend goes occasionally since there is one at her mall; the pictures always make me laugh. They're so cool.


Purikura is so ridiculously awesome. I love seeing pics where there are about 10 people trying to cram into the both.

At most of the places where you can find purikura booths, the dude who gives you the change for the machines usually provides scissors.

focusing the lens

@ HSP: That would make quite a bit of sense! Thanks for adding that. I've only been to places that had individual booths or pairs for the "novelty" of it, rather than as a major part of the business. So they didn't have scissors on hand.


Thanks for the tips! I usually don't like getting photos of me taken but purikura makes it fun :)

There are quite a few purikura-specialty places where I live because it's Asian infested, and they usually have a straight-edge cutting thingy, and give you a choice between different plastic sticky cover thingys. Like protective sheet paper or something haha


I loooove purikura~! The closest one we have is in san francisco (4 hours away). My friends and I usually get a sheet done whenever we're in the city XD They're so much fun!

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