Culture Shock: Stick it to your friends, Japanese style

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By Crystal Whitney

Forget about cars, cameras and Walkmans, Japan’s true genius lies in designing fun and completely frivolous forms of entertainment.  “Purikura,” short for “print club,” is a funky version of a photo booth that takes your picture and magically transforms it into a sheet of 16 little stickers.  Not only that, but you can choose from colour, black and white or sepia prints, hundreds and hundreds of frames and those with higher aspirations (delusions?) can even pose with celebrities or experiment with different hairstyles.

Extremely popular among the teeny bopper set as proof of their popularity, Japanese high school girls spend hours taking and exchanging print clubs with their friends, until their day planner pages are crammed full of stickers.

As the print club wizards continue to develop new models, everyone from elementary school kids to stuffy business types is getting in on the act.  Two fo the latest twists are Graffiti purikura booths, which have a pen to draw around (or on) your 9or your friend’s) face, and stamp club, which puts your face on a personally designed stamp.

Although purikura is found everywhere in Japan, it’s still rare here in Canada.  If you’re curious, Funland Arcade across from Sam the Record Man has a machine.  So does Booknet, a Japanese bookstore at Bloor and Balmuto Sts. just west of Yonge street.  Since you probably don’t need (or want) 16 pictures of yourself, I recommend going with a couple friends and splitting the $4 cost.  Happy print clubbing!

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