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Posts Tagged ‘purikura’

Blogger Lisa Katayama took Kurt to Tokyo’s girl haven: the sticker picture booth.

You can download the video here.

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The motto of a fictional character of mine was All Cliches Are True. As I was reminded twice, spectacularly, during my first full day in Tokyo.

Of course I knew about the (cliche of the) Japanese schoolgirl subculture, and its devotion to cuteness, uniformity, pinkness, intense girl-to-girl friendliness, technology, and so on. But my visit yesterday afternoon to an arcade of elaborate photo booths in Shibuya, right after school let out, was a hands-on gas. Now I viscerally know what that subculture looks and feels like, instead of just having read about it.

Lisa and Kurt vogue teenaged-girl style.

Lisa and Kurt vogue teenaged-girl style.

Our Japanese colleague Lisa Katayama accompanied me — and indeed, as a man (or boy) I wouldn’t have been allowed into the place without her. The booths are individually themed to produce a particular kind of group (girl) portrait, and the booths are large — 3 times as big as the ones we know in America. Once inside, you’re cued to pose in particular ways — to “vogue” according to prescribed super-cute situations. And then, in a second both, one adds stars and hearts and unicorns and flowers and mushrooms and and letters and numbers to one’s portrait at will. And the final product is a postcard-sized, adhesive-backed montage of 24 photos, which is supposed to be cut into 24 individual stickers and shared with one’s BFFs. I now have an uncanny desire to attend a boy-band concert with Lisa.
Another true cliche about Japan — the insane, inefficient illogic of the street address system; that is, the lack of a system easily usable even by natives — I experienced last night.
I left my hotel, and handed the printed, Japanese-language address of a restaurant to my cab driver; he loaded the address into his GPS device. And still, he couldn’t find the destination. Finally he parked, turned off his meter, and wandered away to find a human being who could tell him where the (Italian) restaurant was. Twenty minutes later, he returned, drove 2 blocks, and we were there.
The ill-fated cab.

The ill-fated cab.

For a country where humiliation avoidance is supposed to be a prime cultural driver, how weird that this daily opportunity for minor humiliation is hard-wired into life. Consider the time (and gasoline) wasted — and consider how many millions of times the same thing happens every year in Tokyo. Japan is one of the most supremely modern, well-organized places I’ve ever been — with for this bizarre, gratuitous premodern exception.
– Kurt Andersen

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Purikura

While Pejk and Jenny wandered the peaceful Yoyogi park, I hit the streets of Shibuya with our our freelance reporter Lisa Katayama. Lisa is working on a piece about a new generation of Japanese female artists who are playing with female archetypes – like the schoolgirl – in all kinds of fun and twisted ways. (More on that later.)  Shibuya is a place where throngs of teenage girls flock after school, so we hit some hot spots with the girl culture expert Daisuke Okabe.

Daisuke, Leital and Lisa in Glorious Glitter

Daisuke, Leital and Lisa in Glorious Glitter

He took us to a “purikura” arcade – a storefront filled with photo booths.  But this ain’t your grandma’s photo booth – each one has a special theme, like “princess” or “glitter.”  You pose in front of a green screen, then go to a computer where you can pimp out your pictures with all kinds of graphics and colors.  After spending 5 minutes touching them up, you get a printout.  They are microscopic!  You’d think after all that effort you’d want a poster or a t-shirt, or at least a 5×7.  But apparently, you aren’t cool unless you do this with your best friends at least once a week.  We managed to get ours done without too many stares.

– Leital Molad

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