Saturday, May 19, 2007

3...2...1... CHIZU!

One of the most addictive parts of Japanese culture is called Purikura (Print Club). Teenagers regularly climb into these photo booths with their friends to make stickers for their collection books. And these books of crazy photos with weird English sayings, extra little accessories, and special effects are impressive (and always being passed around when they're supposed to be listening to the teacher). While I can't possibly compete with seasoned Japanese teenagers, I have given in to the fun to be had by popping 400 yen into a machine... many many times.

The booths are spacious and I have seen pictures with an improbably high number of people crammed in (of course, those Japanese kids are really tiny and bendy). The problem is that everything is in Japanese so essentially you just have to hit buttons quickly and see what happens. There's always a countdown of some sort and when it hits 4...3...2... you just start throwing out the index finger to make selections. One time Bridgit and I somehow selected a camera on the floor and had to crouch down to take pictures and jump up to make selections. Those happened on a day full of unfortunate purikura experiments in Miyako that resulted with one sheet printed out with the same bad photo for the whole thing (and nothing fun done to it yet), some crazy weird hair that we somehow put on ourselves, and a terrifying experience in a Disney Princess booth in which no useable photos resulted because there were about a 100 cameras to look at while movie scenes (freaky Snow White witch) played...

After your photos are shot (usually about 8-10), you are sent around the corner to make them kawaiiiiiiii. This is where the random button pushing can be troublesome and the countdown can cause ill-fated decisions out of panic. Usually it's quite fun, though, as words, pictures, tiaras, dates, sparkles are added to the photos. After you finally figure out which button means "finished" and 2 minutes of printing, you have your very own sticker sheet. (I don't have a book and hence have all my little stickers are currently stored in a classy white envelope... What are you supposed to do with these things? I have put a few on my phone... maybe I should just start sticking them on everything in my apartment for fun.)

Anyways, it's an addictive habit and Bridgit and I can't resist print club. It draws us in every time with its bright colors, cheesy posters, and the promise of an award-winning Top Model print club printout. I also introduced Josh, Laura, and Ken to the fun to be had in these wondrous booths. Good times! Here's one of our photos from yesterday's trip to Mihama.