Video: Japan’s ‘Purikura’ Photo Booths Offer Snapchat-Like Filters

July 3, 2017

Japanese purikura photo booths, which produce selfies that you can decorate and print out, pre-date Snapchat filters by at least a decade. At about $3.50 a pop, they are still attracting hordes of Tokyo teenagers.

NPR Code Switch reporter Kat Chow and I gave purikura — the word is a mashup of the Japanese purinto kurabu or “print club” — a try. A couple of teenage girls in Tokyo’s Harajuku district advised us on how to optimize our experience.

But it was a good thing a reporter on race and culture was on hand: We ended up discovering that the instant modifications happening to images in these photo booths raise some questions about what’s considered beautiful in the eyes of the Japanese.

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