Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Style Passaport-Type Photography

Purikura among friends
Group of colleagues photographed in a Purikura studio in Shibuya.
Purikura cabin interior
Flash lights from a Purikura cabin.
Purikura Machine
Panel of a Purikura machine.
Album of memories
Mini photographs left by clients from a Purikura studio in Shibuya.
Customer uses Purikura-Shibuya-Tokyo-Japan machine
Customer uses a Purikura machine housed in an elegant cabin.
Tokyo night
Passersby walk along a street lined with illuminated billboards.
A Brown Client
Clients wait their turn at a Purikura studio in Shibuya, Japan.
hidden magic
Detail of a Purikura cabin panel.
The Magic Pen
Young client retouching a photograph just taken in a Purikura studio.
Skirt Purikura
Customers have fun in their Purikura booths.
Private Session
Customer uses a Purikura machine with privacy ensured by a bright cabin.
Customer puts on make-up before entering a Purikura house in Shibuya.
Example poster
A promotional poster for Purikura, featuring young photogenic models.
Purikura Sharing
Two friends share purikura photos from mobile to mobile.
Creativity 2
Couple of lovers illustrates an image of both at their pleasure.
vivid beauty
Another inspiring poster decorates a Shibuya Purikura studio.
In the late 80s, two Japanese multinationals already saw conventional photo booths as museum pieces. They turned them into revolutionary machines and Japan surrendered to the Purikura phenomenon.

The fur coat, the black ankle boots high above the knee and the miniature denim shorts are not faithful to the looks recommended inside the studio, but nothing seems to demotivate the young gyaru.

The corner of Shibuya's busy street is far from granting her any privacy, but as she hastily fiddles with her mascara brush, only her reflection in the small mirror and the volume of her long eyelashes seem to count.

A suitcase already tagged suggests that the teenager is about to travel and that she wants to take with her a narcissistic memory of recent times in Tokyo.

Make-up client, Purikura, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Customer puts on make-up before entering a Purikura house in Shibuya.

Inside, the store is as busy as it is colorful. It's the third time we've been there. Right in the first one, we were made clear that we could not photograph neither the other customers nor with professional cameras.

The prohibition forces us to play a complicated game of cat and mouse with the employee on duty, in the labyrinth of the cabins he supervises.

Curtains decorated with flowers and images of friends with immaculate skins, large almost Western eyes, glossy cashew or golden hair and bright smiles close the spaces of the devices to the users' imagination or capacity to imitate.

Many are not begging and are inspired by those looks that the creators christened in Japanese but with semi-precious complements in English: Pink Eye, Jewel is Saphire, Jewella, among others.

Saphire Cabin, Purikura, Tokyo, Japan

Customer uses a Purikura machine housed in an elegant cabin.

Entering the required 500 or 600 yen in the slot, customers rush into the booth's photo area, assume the freshest poses and expressions they can remember.

They await the end of the count Uan, tsū, surii, pōzu (adapted from English – One, two, three, Pose) enunciated by video-hostesses with female and youth voices and allow themselves to be frozen by the powerful flashes.

Group Photo, Purikura, Japan

Group of colleagues photographed in a Purikura studio in Shibuya.

In any conventional photo booth, the experience would end here, but Japanese technology tried to enrich it and then monetize it.

We walked the corridors between the cabins and, through the half-open curtains, we noticed the enthusiasm of groups of friends and couples who, against the clock, decorate their images with little stars, hearts, flowers, rainbows and other myriad symbols and effects that digital pens and complex screen menus allow them to combine.

Couple retouch Purikura, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Couple of lovers illustrates an image of both at their pleasure.

The Ignored Genius Idea

This was the vision that Sasaki Miho had and that he transmitted to the company he worked for – Atlus, creator of computer games – allowing him to develop, in partnership with the famous SEGA, the revolutionary Purikura devices.

Miho was inspired by the Japanese youth hobby of decorating the covers of school books, backpacks, lockers, cell phones and everything else with popular Japanese figurines and remembered that the habit could be transposed to electronic format.

Strangely enough now, when the first models of the strange machines appeared on the market in 1995, they aroused little interest.

Purikura poster, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

A promotional poster for Purikura, featuring young photogenic models.

Finally, the Japanese Phenomenon of Purikura Photography

But a few years of persistence later, J-Pop (read Japanese pop) band SMAP offered pictures of themselves produced in Purikura, live on a television show, and set the tone.

The idea was not long in being copied by other music groups and personalities. And the fashion for producing, trading and collecting these fun photos quickly spread among teenage girls.

As of spring 1998, there were around 25.000 cabins across the country and many imitations. Other opportunistic entrepreneurs were installing, in the vicinity, houses with cosplay suits (custom play), hair and other accessories, an idea that, however, some Purikura studios came to assimilate.

Thus, the concept of a Japanese Print Club was popularized, which the younger people converted first to a gairaigo (transliteration) almost mandatory, "kurabhu purinto” and then shortened it to Purikura.

Much More than Just Pass Photos

Purikura materialization is optional. We see history repeating itself, in Shibuya stores and in many others across the rest of the country.

Pictures Purikura, Japan

Mini photographs left by clients from a Purikura studio in Shibuya.

Coming from design machines – let's call them that – users decide whether to receive the final image on glossy paper contact sheets or, through a system similar to Bluetooth, directly to the screens of their mobile phones, tablets and company. last generation.

As we could see, first choice requires some scissors work, to separate the strips or individual images that can come out of different sizes. The latter proves to be more practical and allows easy and immediate copying and resending as MMS or emails.

Friends pass photos-Purikura, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Two friends share purikura photos from mobile to mobile.

As long as the flow of customers is high, any of the machines and modalities is highly profitable.

Accordingly, we find purikuras throughout urban Japan and even in some more rural corners, both in gaming machines and in their own studios where the quantity and variety increases and the decoration, from the facade of the establishment to the exit door, it is entirely dedicated to them.

Once Purikura's photographic base became commonplace, ambitious developments were launched on the market, with an obvious exponent in the so-called Videkura, machines that allow the creation and sending of short videos via the mobile phone network or the Internet.

Different companies have chosen to attract different target audiences with concepts that are attractive to them. Love & Berry bet on love relationships, the Mushi King and Naruto allow martial arts aficionados to show off their most impressive combat moves.

Photo booth, Purikura, Japan

Flash lights from a Purikura cabin.

Another, created by the Ututu company, chose the name MYSQ – My Style So Qute and seems doomed to success by challenging users to produce videos of different styles using special effects and music.

Purikura's Technological Innovation and International Expansion

As is to be expected, neither the original invention nor these developments are limited to Japan. It was discovered a few years ago that Taipei, capital of Taiwan and attentive imitator of Japanese novelties, it was already the city with the highest number of machines per capita.

In Ximen – its Shibuya – there is even a three-story building equipped with dozens of state-of-the-art Purikura.

In mainland China, the most common is to have old models, in gaming houses or small stores. Bangkok and Manila are also regular customers while in Australia – where the Japanese, Chinese and Korean population is constantly increasing – and in some Western countries, machines are almost always available in small numbers.

During an excursion in which we take part by the Red Center Outback e Northern Territory, the successive games with digital cameras bring the purikura theme to the conversation.

Yummi, one of several Japanese passenger passengers, reacts immediately, at the same time excited and embarrassed about the role she is about to assume: “I have !! look here, so many !!!”. And he takes out his wallet and a PDA to show us his extensive collection.

In Japan, any passerby up to the age of forty is a potential Purikura user, but some are more than others. Groups of fellow teenagers on their way to or from school in their uniforms of coat, dark pullover and short skirt with socks just below the knee proved to be the perfect customers.

Purikura Booths, Tokyo, Japan

Customers have fun in their Purikura booths.

Soon after, there are the exuberant friends a little older who have freed themselves from this dictatorial phase of life and dedicate most of their time to beautifying themselves in order to refine their identity.

For many girls and women, the purikura function as yet another extension of this fragrant search for meaning and they are the main reason for the phenomenon's existence.

On an afternoon of fun, each can spend up to 4000 yen (40€). We even saw long lines in front of some new or more popular machines.

Customers in Purikura, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo teenager await their turn in a Purikura studio in Shibuya, Japan.

But certain behavioral deviations around the phenomenon challenged the established harmony of the hypocritical Japanese society. The problem became more serious when certain men began visiting homes with the aim of seducing and hooking up teenagers.

And it got worse when some of these teenagers started to leave pictures of them with phone numbers, offering to make new friends or enjo kosai, as they are called in Japan, financially assisted relationships.

Beauty Vivid-Purikura poster, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Another inspiring poster decorates a Shibuya Purikura studio.

The reaction to the scandal emerged in a short time, with the ban on entry of men into Purikura's houses if they were not accompanied by friends or girlfriends and the installation of cabins for single use by couples.

This restriction was expected. We are talking about a nation with Spartan customs and seemingly immaculate morals where people almost never touch one another, or show affection, in public.

From Purikura to Videkura

The sending of images to mobile phones has become banal (from where they can be sent to other mobile phones or devices as MMS or e-mails), ambitious developments were recently launched on the market, with an obvious exponent in the Videkura calls.

As the name implies, these machines allow you to create short videos and send them via the mobile phone network or the Internet.

Purikura Panel, Tokyo, Japan

Panel of a Purikura machine.

In the emperor's realm, any revolutionary prototype quickly becomes technological junk or, with any luck, a museum piece.

Despite the permanent modernization to which they are subject, Purikura continue to deserve the respect due from their fans. After all, these prodigious cabins have been part of their lives for ten years.

And they make life in Japan happier.

Tokyo, Japan

Pachinko: The Video - Addiction That Depresses Japan

It started as a toy, but the Japanese appetite for profit quickly turned pachinko into a national obsession. Today, there are 30 million Japanese surrendered to these alienating gaming machines.

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Tokyo, Japan

Disposable Purrs

Tokyo is the largest of the metropolises but, in its tiny apartments, there is no place for pets. Japanese entrepreneurs detected the gap and launched "catteries" in which the feline affections are paid by the hour.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's fashion

In ultra-populous and hyper-coded Japan, there is always room for more sophistication and creativity. Whether national or imported, it is in the capital that they begin to parade the new Japanese looks.
Tokyo, Japan

The Emperor Without Empire

After the capitulation in World War II, Japan underwent a constitution that ended one of the longest empires in history. The Japanese emperor is, today, the only monarch to reign without empire.
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's Hypno-Passengers

Japan is served by millions of executives slaughtered with infernal work rates and sparse vacations. Every minute of respite on the way to work or home serves them for their inemuri, napping in public.
Kyoto, Japan

Survival: The Last Geisha Art

There have been almost 100 but times have changed and geishas are on the brink of extinction. Today, the few that remain are forced to give in to Japan's less subtle and elegant modernity.
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
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Okavango Delta, Botswana

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Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
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The Little-Big Senglea II
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4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
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Lawless City, Transit of Hanoi, Under the Order of Chaos, Vietnam
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Tatooine on Earth
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combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

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Cambodia, Angkor, Ta Phrom
Ho Chi Minh a of Angkor, Cambodia

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
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life outside

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Blue Hole, Gozo Island, Malta
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Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
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Guest, Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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Ribeiro Frio, Madeira, Vereda dos Balcões,
Natural Parks
Ribeiro Frio Forest Park, Madeira

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Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
UNESCO World Heritage
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In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
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Santa Maria, Sal Island, Cape Verde, Landing
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The Crucifixion in Helsinki
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Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
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Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
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