Purikura-The Core of Kawaii Culture

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G'Day Japan! / Culture / Purikura-The Core of Kawaii Culture

Photos are a great way to preserve memorable moments. While the term ‘selfie’ only really became prevalent along with the advent of smartphones in recent years, Japan was perhaps the pioneer to develop something somewhat similar to this with the ‘Purikura’ machine, a booth which produces stamp-sized photo stickers. It all started in 1995 but there wasn’t much attention to it at first. It was not until a nationwide popular J-pop group used Purikura machines for their fan engagement activities that it really took off. It wasn’t long before Purikura established its presence as the symbol of its era. 25,000 licensed Purikura machines and other copycats existed throughout Japan by the late 1990s. The Purikura machine had become a ubiquitous part of Japanese youth culture due to its massive popularity with teenage girls. In fact, these girls may well be certified as ‘pro Purikura models’ as they possess extensive expertise from selecting the most adequate machines to making the most stylish poses to accomplish the ultimate ‘photogenic selfie.’ 25 years have passed since the launch of Purikura but it still leads the Japanese Kawaii culture, maintaining its base concept but with added sophisticated features. Here are some ways Purikura machines can be fun for you.


1. Selection Fun

Purikura machines are not difficult to find– they are placed in almost every arcade in Japan. There’s usually an entire floor just to accommodate the numerous kinds of purikura machines.


Shibuya or Akihabara are the mecca for these machines. There would be a long queue of girls to take Purikura with the most popular or latest models. In order to obtain the best look, a make-up corner is usually furnished on the same floor so that girls can do or fix their make-up. Some locations even rent out costumes for 300 yen (AUD$5). For more ornate costumes, this price can rise up to 1,000yen (AUD$15). Purikura itself is about 400 yen ($4) per session. Thus, money also contributes to the vast demand from the youth as fashionable and sophisticated photoshoots can be achieved with such a small amount of money.

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2. Photoshooting Fun

Filters vary according to the type of machine but common options such as pointed chin, bigger eyes, brighter cheeks and lighter complexion are available.


Some machines have preset filters based on seasons or themes. Purikura also provides set examples of trendy poses for each session. There is of course freedom to not follow them but they come in handy for those wanting some variety in positions.


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3. Editing Fun

Purikura is not all about photoshoots. In fact, more fun comes afterwards. The editing process is conducted outside of the booth with a privacy curtain. Options to write personalised messages and place stickers to customize each photo are available. More options such as adding and accentuating make up such as blushes, eyelashes and adjusting skin tones can also be implemented. An ideal body figure can even be accomplished with these machines too due to the fact that Anime-like eyes, longer legs and slimmer faces are also among the various selections. It can be overwhelming as the editing time is limited but often bonus time is added for satisfying editing procedure.

These edited photo images are directly sent to mobile phones so that users can circulate the photos among their friends or post them onto their social media channels.

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Purikura machines have certainly been dominant in the Japanese Kawaii Culture, and it seems like it will not lose its popularity. Purikura machines remain as the key tool for teenagers to save their precious moments as the pursuit of Japanese Kawaii culture continues.




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