Things that are weird about Japan #9: Purikura!
Last week, my supervisor at the Board of Education called me to ask if I would meet with his daughters, who are home from university, and speak English with them. I mentioned this to a few other ALTs and it turned into a potluck dinner the whole family was invited to.
On Saturday night, Hiramatsu picked me up and once greetings had been exchanged, he turned to me with a very serious look.
“Hannah sensei. I hope you can do me a big favour.”
I agreed nervously.
“I need to ask you… Can you take purikura with me and my family?”
I was thrilled, so once we had picked up his family and Leandi, we went to the arcade for purikura.
Purikura are like those sticker photo booths we have in New Zealand, but much more serious. The booths are bigger, the options are more numerous and crazy music plays while you are taking the photos.
And—I’ll be honest, this freaks me out a bit—they make your eyes bigger and darker. On Japanese people, this has the effect of making them look even more like anime characters, which is rather attractive.
It makes me look a bit like an alien.
So all six of us crammed into a booth and started taking crazy shots. I’ve got to say, I never thought I’d find myself taking purikura with a Japanese man in his fifties and his whole family, but somehow in Japan these things just happen.
The resulting pictures were, of course, hilarious. We all got little thumbnail-sized prints to take home, as well as digital copies to our keitai (cellphones).
I had to pick something up from the Board of Education a few days later and Hiramatsu complimented me on my purikura skills. I was a bit confused, and told him it was only my second time, so I didn’t really have any skills. He insisted that I was very talented, and then I realised that all those years of drunken group myspace shots had finally come in handy.