I Was A Photo Sticker Junkie

Photo sticker booths, which still exist in some shopping centres, spawned a generation of Japanese young people who were referred to using the Japanese word for the machines: Purikura.

When the local K-Mart got one in 2000, I was stoked. Why was it so appealing to acquire sheet after sheet of these tiny stickers? I couldn't tell you. But I was into it. I admit it. A tiny sheet of photos of me and my best friend with our heads next to a cartoon drawing of a pineapple? Sign me up! I didn't have a digital camera at the time, and Polaroid film was pricey. These little doodads were a nice - if not completely satisfying - way to get quick photos of my nearest and dearest. And who doesn't love pineapples?

Photo sticker machines started popping up in Japan in the mid-1990s, but didn't make it to these shores until around 1999. All the kids I babysat back then had their school binders covered in them. I swear, put a sticky back on anything and it turns into crack for 11-year-old girls.

I still see these booths at shopping centres sometimes, but they've lost their excitement for me. In the far reaches of my desk drawer, I still have a few photo sticker sheets, each with a handful of stickers still on them. Occasionally I'll stick one onto a birthday card or a book, but I try to use them sparingly. One day, I know I'll run out. [Photoguide.jp]

Anna Jane Grossman will be with us for the next few weeks, documenting life in the early aughts, and how it differs from today. The author of Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By (Abrams Image) and the creator of ObsoleteTheBook.com, she has also written for dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Salon.com, the Associated Press, Elle and the Huffington Post, as well as Gizmodo. She has a complicated relationship with technology, but she does have an eponymous website: AnnaJane.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaJane.

Purikura sticker sheets image by slavin_fpo, and Purikura booth shot by Brian Adler, both from Wikimedia Commons under CC license

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