Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Lights. Camera. Sparkle.
I don't think there is anything quite as much fine, or as raw, as taking a photo in a photobooth. The ones I am used to are four little squares, all lined up vertically, with the very hard decision making of "What border do I want? Happy cherubs or a wanted poster?" and whether it should be black and white, sepia or color. Sometimes, you don't even get to make those decisions.
When we entered the arcade in Nara, most of us girls were trying to mentally prepare for two hours of the more video game inclined to play Street Fighter and Gundam games while we were shoved into a corner with all of the claw machines.
What we found though, was about a half a dozen brightly colored pod machines, with Japanese models plastered in makeup and seqince all over the outside of them. They were the infamous photo booths that I had heard about, and were told that I needed to try at some point. I was more than game, since I had a very slight addiction to the less impressive photobooths back in the states.
We eventually walked into one, and from right off the bat you could tell this was going to be a completely different experience. Instead of huddling around a small chair, there was a lavish interior that had cubbys for your things and professional grade lighting. Its a far cry from the blinding flash that you get for your lighting at my favorite mall photobooth.
We stumbled through the decisions and buttons the first time, which we later figured out that some of them were "Do you want us to make it look like you're wearing a ridiculous amount of mascara and lipstick?" "How dark or albino do you care to look today?" "What sort of theme do you want for your pictures?" Everything was also on a very stressful time limit, so if you didn't make your decision fast enough, you were doomed to whatever the photo booth thought was best for you.
After we took our pictures, you would have to edit them, and add little stickers or sparkles. You could even give yourself more makeup and different colored hair.
Unlike the its American counter part, which can turn even the most bodacious diva into an awkward pile of florescent lighting, these ones will edit Igor into Ricky Martin.
The thing that it left me wondering, why do they care about having such intense photo booths? The thing I've noticed about the recreational activities here is that they are so much part of the new Japan. The old Japan to me is the temples and the shrines, while the new Japan is the graphic pictures, bright lights and little cartoon characters beckoning you in. You can see this in the photo booths which end up covered in kawaii stickers and sparkles. They are like little pods that help to transform you into the newer Japanese aesthetics, which is a fun experience when you go there.