upr-header-1.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

Japanese purikura photo booths, which produce selfies that you can decorate and print out, predate 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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.