In Japan, purikura (プリクラ ?) refers to a photo sticker booth or the product of such a photo booth. The name is a shortened form of the registered trademark Purinto Kurabu (プリント倶楽部 ?). The term derives from the English print club.
Photo sticker booths or photo sticker machines are a special type of photo booth that produce photo stickers. Still maintaining huge popularity in Japan, they have spread throughout Asia to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. They have also been imported to Australia. Some have also begun appearing in the United States and Canada although they failed to make any impression in Europe when introduced in the mid 1990s.
After money has been inserted in the machine, multiple customers can enter the booth and pose for a set number of exposures. Some common options include the ability to alter lighting and backdrops while the newest versions offer features such as cameras from a variety of angles, fans, seats, and blue screen effects. Some establishments even offer costumes and wigs for customers to borrow. Once the pictures have been taken, the customers select the pictures that they wish to keep and customize them using a touch screen or pen-sensitive screen. The touch screen then displays a vast array of options such as virtual stamps, pictures, clip art, colorful backdrops, borders, and pens that can be superimposed on the photographs.
Features that can be found in some sticker machines are customizing the beauty of the customers such as brightening the pictures, making the eyes sparkle more, changing the hair, bringing a more reddish color to the lips, and fixing any blemishes by having them blurred. Other features include cutting out the original background and replacing it with a different background. Certain backgrounds may be chosen so when the machine prints out the picture, the final sticker will be shiny with sparkles.
Finally, the number and size of the pictures to be printed are chosen, and the pictures print out on a glossy full-color 10 X 15 cm sheet to be cut up and divided among the group of customers. Some photo booths also allow the pictures to be sent to customers' mobile phones. Other photo places have a scanner and laptop at the cashiers desk for customers to scan and copy their original picture before they cut and divide the pictures amongst their group.
Gyaru & Purikura
Gyaru and gyaru culture has long been associated with purikura. Gyaru circles, as well as general groups of gyaru friends, are known to collect purikura for both personal photobooks/photo albums and to share on social media. The very essence of purikura, with its many stickers, pen styles and sparkles, remains to this day a true example of gyaru culture. Due to the popularity of purikura, in and out of gyaru culture, there are now many apps for smart phones that allow you to create purikura-type photographs with your existing photos.
In western culture, purikura machines had a stint of popularity around the late 90s to early 2000s. Unfortunately there has been a decrease in the amount of purikura machines around, often forcing Gaijin gyaru to travel very far if they wish to take purikura with friends/their gyarusa.