Aug 24

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

It’s been a few years since I lived in Japan, but during my various periods in the country purikura played a big part in my life. Purikura stands for “print club” and refers to the sticker pictures often taken with friends that blanket Japan and many malls in the States as well.  I must admit I sometimes didn’t fully understand all the purikura functions available and usually let my Japanese friends take charge, but they seem to have advanced even further these days.  A special on the news this morning took a look at what current purikura machines have to offer.

Three functions were highlighted as being the most sought after by young women, who are the prime target of purikura.  They are big eyes (デカ目 or dekame), skin beautifier (美肌機能 or bihada kinou) and linking to your keitai (携帯との連動性).  The first option of dekame works with the same technology used for facial recognition in digital cameras.  The subject’s eyes are enhanced to be bigger and rounder than usual (as it often seen in manga), a look women think makes them look cuter.  They took a purikura of the Mona Lisa and tried giving her dekame, and it did indeed soften her image.

The second bihada function offers 16 hues you can select from to ensure beautiful skin in your purikura.  Among them are marshmallow, smooth (subesube) and boiled egg (yudetama), and you can also use this function to remove pimples, moles or anything else you don’t want showing up in the picture.  They did a test by purposely dotting two young women’s faces with a marker to resemble pimples, and sure enough in the final product their skin was almost perfectly clear.  In terms of putting your best face forward (at least in pictures), this seems like a useful tool.

The third feature allows you to send the resulting purikura straight to your keitai via infrared technology.  Back in the day you would get your prints and faithfully put them in your purikura book, but apparently this style of collecting  is not employed as much anymore.  Instead, 63% of female purikura fans take advantage of a function that allows you to send the pictures to your keitai instead of getting a printout.  They will then use these shots for things like the main pictures on their blogs.

Another reason why purikura books have gone out of fashion is that these days young women use purikura not to be exchanged with friends, but as both proof and confirmation of their appearance.  One young woman detailed that if she is having a good hair or makeup day, she wants to record it for posterity with a purikura.  Another said it is her way of checking how she looks to other people.

There is a bit of a gender divide however, in terms of who approves the ability of purikura to alter one’s look.  Young men were also surveyed regarding purikura habits, and more than half of them said that they were against their female contemporaries using a multitude of functions to alter their appearance.  As one guy put it, “Sometimes they come out cuter on the sticker, but there’s nothing like the real thing.”

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