Last week’s post was about Beppu (べっぷ / 別府), so this week I need to start with ぷ (pu). A big thank you to japanaustralia for joining in the game of Shiritori this week and suggesting Puccho (ぷっちょ) – a kind of Japanese sweets, and puroyakyuu (ぷろやきゅう), professional baseball. However, this week I had a burning desire to write about…
Purikura is, like karaoke, something you will inevitably find yourself doing if you spend long enough in Japan. Often found in games centres (arcades), purikura machines are photo booths which produce sheets of photo stickers. The name is a shortened form of the registered trademark Purinto Kurabu (プリント倶楽部), which derives from the English ‘print club’. Purikura machines have been around since 1995 (according to Wikipedia), and they come in all sorts of different varieties. Purikura has become something which Japanese teenagers like to do as a group activity – sometimes to mark a special occasion, or sometimes just as an activity in itself. Some people even dress up specially for the photo, wearing their best fashion items.
When you’ve taken the picture, there are lots of different ways in which you can then decorate it. For example, with frames, writing (including English), kawaii (cute) images, hearts, sparkles… the list is endless. There are also effects you can apply to the photos, making them often have a strange ‘purikura-ness’ about them. In particular, eyes always looks really odd once the effects have been applied.
Once you’re ready, the machine prints the photos on sheets of stickers and you can cut them up using the scissors provided (yes, Japan is such a safe country that you can leave scissors lying around arcades without fear of getting stabbed). These days you can also get the photo emailed to yourself, and then you have it saved digitally too. If you’re teaching English in Japan, have a look at your students’ pencil cases, notebooks and electronic dictionaries – you’ll be sure to spot a few purikura snaps. Some dedicated purikura fans will even keep albums of their stickers.
But purikura is not just for kids – you can have great fun playing with the machines as an adult, too. You can even fit quite a large group of people in some machines…
Although purikura is usually more popular among girls, this one guy – the Purikura Prince (プリクラ王子) – has proved that it’s not just for ladies…
(Image: Japan Probe)
If you can’t make it to Japan and your local arcade doesn’t have any purikura machines (some in London do, but they’re not as good as the Japanese ones), don’t worry, you can always use a website or app to create your purikura masterpieces. The two most popular sites seem to be Puricute and Punykura (which also has an Android app). I found Puricute easier to use than Punykura, and had a lot of fun playing around with it making this:
There are also iPhone/iPad apps called Rakuga Cute and Snapeee which are pretty good fun to play with, but Puricute is my favourite alternative to actually being in Japan and squeezing in a purikura machine with my friends.
Purikura (プリクラ) ends with ら (ra), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “ra”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below and I’ll give you a mention next week. And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v