Tokyo Guide: Purikura – Japanese Photo Booths

by Sanne

Purikura are the super-cute photo booths you’ll find in most gaming arcades throughout Tokyo. They come with advanced, beauty-enhancing functions, which will twist your facial features to fit the Japanese perception of beauty: Fair skin, big eyes and a tiny nose. Forgot to put on make-up? Didn’t wash your hair? Don’t worry, the purikura will take digitally care of that.

I always visit a purikura when I’m in Tokyo, both because it’s fun, but also because the photos are great souvenirs to take home.

Purikura – How it works

Most places have several purikura booths to choose among, each with different themes or features. I’ve seen some of the newest ones, which come with the option to enhance masculine features too. Probably a good choice, if you’re going with your husband or boyfriend and you prefer him to look like a knight in armor and not a fairytale princess.

After deciding on a purikura booth, you pay with coins (usually it costs ¥300-¥500), before proceeding inside the booth. There’s sometimes an English language option, but the instructions in English are limited. However, the purikura are very intuitive to use, and there’s usually staff at hand to help you out.

You choose the background you want, and there’s often options to choose how light you want your skin to be and how you want your eyes to look. Then the shooting begins. The monitor will count down before the flash goes off. Remember to look into the lens, which is placed above the monitor.

After the photo session it’s time to decorate the photos. At some places, the decoration area is just a screen outside the photo booth, at other places, it’s in a separate booth. You can choose between different digital stamps and stickers, and it’s also possible to add text to the images. Finally, you choose the number and the size of your photos. There’s also an option to have the digital photos posted to your phone, but it only works for Japanese phones.

When you’re done, the photos are printed and you can pick them up, usually from a hole on the side of the purikura booth.

The purikura are typically located on a separate floor inside the gaming arcades. You’ll find many of those arcades in entertainment districts such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Akihabara.

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