IRL Stuff|プリクラ Purikura — Sticker Photo Booths

IRL Stuff|プリクラ Purikura — Sticker Photo Booths

Hello BAYOG fam~ Lately, I’ve been having this sense of nostalgia and looking back at my childhood. In a way I’ve been a bit blessed because I was kind of able to have both the Thai and American 90’s kids’ experience. If you didn’t know, I’m Thai. I used to go back to Thailand every summer as a kid. I was thinking back to when I’d hit up the arcades and take pictures in the sticker photo booths~

Taken at Pika Pika in Japantown, San Francisco, California.

It’s something you’ll often see in some anime, movies, manga, and dramas too. Y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s usually a scene where these teens go hang out at an arcade or go shopping after school. Then they take pictures in these little photo booths. It’s something that both couples and groups of friends enjoy. These photo booths are called プリクラ, or purikura. It basically comes from the English words “print club”. You see, purikura pictures were also stickers.

From the Thai film Back to the 90s
From the Thai film Back to the 90s

These were pretty popular in the 90’s/2000’s. Before Instagram, SnapChat, and Snow filters, friends and couples would go to these sticker photo booths. The booths had all these little effects and decorations. It’d basically make you look like an anime character. You could add images, borders, or writing to decorate your photos. Back in the day we’d have little photo-books where you would collect and stick the photos. I remember having a slightly fancy little Sanrio agenda. It had a little section for my photo stickers as well. Back in the day, people would also stick them on their phones or beepers too.

From my 2018 trip to LA, California.
From the True Beauty webtoon.

The times have changed, and technology has advanced. So has the purikura machines. The quality of the pictures are much better now. These days you can also download a digital copy of your photos too! Different machines have different styles and themes too. There are so many more options to customize your pictures. I’ll be honest though. It can be a bit overwhelming at times.

Taken at Pika Pika in Japantown, San Francisco, California.

Usually there are two kinds of booths. You have the one where you quickly take the pictures, then edit the pictures right then and there. Then you have the kind where you take the pictures in the booth, then step outside, and go to the other side for the editing section. Everything has a timer, so you gotta take pictures quickly. Sometimes there are props too! So you might want to plan your poses and things ahead of time. Personally, I like the spontaneous pictures better though ~ For the picture taking part there are some selections like the kind of coloring or lighting. You also have choices like if you want normal kinds of photos, or sweet/cute looking photos. Be warned that the cute ones will make your eyes freakin’ huge.

Taken somewhere on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. 2017.

There’s a timer for editing your photos too! You gotta choose which pictures you want to edit and print out. You get to choose the borders, the style, cute little stickers, text, and you can even draw or write on your photos. You gotta act quick though. I’m actually awful at this part. I’m good at posing, but I’m awful at editing. So I usually have my bestie and her boyfriend (now husband) do all that. He’s surprisingly alot better at it than we are.

Taken somewhere on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. 2017.
Taken somewhere on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. 2017.

Alot of the designs and effects are really cute. However, sometimes it’s a bit too far. Often times purikura machines will make your eyes look much larger, your skin much paler, and your legs much longer. Again, you’re basically an anime character IRL. Sometimes it’s cute. Sometimes it’s kind of creepy or like LOL.

Some of my favorite Purikura photos~

Still, these photo booths are always a blast. I admit that I never have the heart to cut them up and stick them somewhere. My friends and I will cut the pictures to split it and make sure everyone has one. Still, I never stick them anywhere. I keep them all tucked safely in a folder or even my wallet. I always love looking back at it and thinking about the times we traveled somewhere and got the pictures. I love seeing how we’ve changed.

From my 2018 trip to LA, California.

The photo booths are really common in the States. You’ll typically have an easier time finding them in larger cities with large Asian populations like LA, San Francisco, or New York. I had a blast taking some in Japan. It was really fun to take some in Harajuku~ It’s fun trying taking sticker photos every time I go somewhere~ I also like to say that I’ve stepped up my purikura game over the years~

Have you used used a purikura machine? What did you think? What’s your favorite purikura photo?~

Taken at the Line Friends Store in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan. 2017.

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