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Purikura – maraysia-no

A while ago, a friend was visiting with her 6-year old daughter. While we were at one of the temples to consumerism that is 1Utama she spotted one of those sticker places (called ‘Dream World’), and she was all for it. And I got an excuse to check out the place, as I have long been curious about what it’s all about.

It is clearly aimed at female teenagers: the examples of what you can do, and the models used were all female; and the overall design style was clearly ‘feminine’ – i.e. cutesy, pink, etc. While we were there, there was one guy, but he was clearly tagging along with the girls he was with.



There were suggestions of what you can do with the stickers: decorate your phone, put them in keyrings, or swap them with friends. The general message was: do this with your girlfriends to have fun together, remember special events and be BFF...

One thing that surprised me was that there were no examples of stickers with a girlfriend/boyfriend motif – it seems to me that it would be a good marketing move, i.e. implant the idea in the girl’s head, ‘if you love me you’ll take a photo together with me’. It also seems like an obvious way for teen couples to declare their relationship (and not so teen… I have to confess I have a set in my wallet of me and my wife when we were dating – though my excuse is that it was in the British Museum as part of a display on Japanese popular culture…). Perhaps encouraging couples to sit together in shielded booths is seen as somewhat unsuitable.
Almost all the instructions and other information is in Japanese, which led to some difficulties when we got round to using one of the booths…



You can hire some costumes if you like…



After selecting a background, you take the photos in whatever poses you choose… afterwards, you can edit them, mainly by using a ‘pen’ with which you choose various things (borders, stars, love hearts, a tiara…) to add to the picture. This is timed, so if (like us) you are inexperienced, you can end up with a photo that has no additional bits...



Another editing option in at least one booth was skin ‘whitening’, a frequent concern of women in Malaysia (and throughout much of the world for that matter)...



Finally, it prints out (more Japanese)



and a cutting table is provided. They were rather smaller than we expected – the smallest being about the size of a postage stamp, and the largest (that we chose) about 3cm by 2 (though I think there were larger ones still… one can choose a combination of sizes, but they all have to fit onto the one sheet so there’s a payoff between the size and the number of pictures you can print out…



These machines are known as ‘Puri Kura’ (short for Purinto Kurabu – the Japanified version of ‘Print Club’, the name of the first machines), they have been around since 1995 apparently. The latest versions of these offer video making capabilities, and the ability to store them on your phone (here).

Something that left me rather gobsmacked was the price of it – RM26 for one set of stickers (which are not very large…). As an alternative, the cinema which is 20 metres away offers about two hours of entertainment for RM7-10 (depending on when you go). The reported price in Japan is USD2-2.50 (RM 8-10), and other articles online all quote lower prices. It seems like Malaysia is particularly expensive for some reason.

There is an article by an anthropologist about “Graffiti photos”, which is basically taking photos and then writing comments on them. She puts them in the context of the pressures of female socialisation in Japan: girls can resist the “mainstream ideals of female reserve, chastity, and self-effacement” by doing parodies of these ideals in the photos – pulling ugly faces, mocking sexual images, and so forth. The purikura also allow for adding text onto the photos though the scope is not as wide. I wonder how girls use them here in Malaysia: they seem to promote very conventional (to me) ‘girly’ behaviour; the place was also full of loads of stuffed toys and other kawaii stuff to buy.

It’s another example of digital technologies being used to fix (in the sense of ‘make permanent’) modified self-representations (in ways that can reproduce or challenge) dominant forms; it’s also an embodied practice, done as a group activity and which serves to fix those social relationships too.

++Update++
I forgot to include this link from The Myanmar Times: it describes a "sticker craze" in Burma (the article is dated May 2007) - the difference there is that it is done in photo studios, with someone taking the photo, then printing it out on an adhesive background. I reckon that buying the photobooths is too expensive for Burmese.


If you’re interested, I wrote another post that is somewhat related to this theme (representations, etc.): here

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julianhopkins.net on : Nuffnangers meet for Hancock

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Just a quick one, as I really have to work on my upcoming paper (and seminar in Monash, will post details soon – it’s about Blogwars!). Thanks to Nuffnang, me and the wife got to see Hancock for free on Monday. It was in Cineleisure at The Curve. We

julianhopkins.net on : Nuffnangers meet for Hancock

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Just a quick one, as I really have to work on my upcoming paper (and seminar in Monash, will post details soon – it’s about Blogwars!). Thanks to Nuffnang, me and the wife got to see Hancock for free on Monday. It was in Cineleisure at The Curve. We

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luce on :

too bad it's not automated...

julian on :

sorry I dunno what you mean by that, but thanks for dropping by anyway :-)

synical on :

Holy shit, that's expensive...

I know the shop you're talking about (with 1U being my second home and all) and I've NEVER been in there, ever. Not that I plan to.

I tried it once, but at (pre-renovation) Sunway Pyramid ages ago with my cousin - I still have the half sheet after all these years :-P

I still think it's a useless exercise.

RK Boo on :

This is in reference to your latest post. Your blog's a bit moody--won't let me post a comment there.

I love Orwell's 1984. Such a brilliant book. Btw, my friend Chian Shen alerted me to this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=tYcS_VpoWJk

Said that it was about some anthropologist looking into info about the net...I haven't watched it yet.

He thought it might be useful for you..so that's the link. :-)

julian on :

Ya Orwell is great. My hero.

Thanks for the link, is interesting.

What message did you get when the post was not allowed?

zach127 on :

im trying to find a place to actually buy the Purikura booths

would you be able to help me find some kind of importer/exporter and or site as ive exhusted my abilitys to find such a resource

if you could help it would be muchly apprecieated

julian on :

Hello Zach, I'm sorry I have absolutely no experience in that area, but I'd suggest you start with the manufacturers Konami

Amelia on :

you can buy purikura booths from pixel memory studio, google it

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