Tokyo and Osaka, M&M's Friends Maker event, purikura photo sticker booth , puri-kura

Do you remember the first time you stepped inside a puri-kura booth? Short for “Print Club”, these booths that produce small photo stickers seemed like a passing fad to me when the machines first came out in 1995, but fast forward 19 years and the club is still going strong. And why not? Just hop in with your friends or special someone, make goofy faces, doodle some nicknames or hearts, then presto! Out comes a sheet of colorful stickers.

The booths themselves have come a long way during that time, incorporating a vast amount of technological wizardry, but now M&M’S Japan has unleashed an altogether different kind of beast. For a special event held on May 24, the confection giant installed a pair of booths, one in Tokyo and one in Osaka, collectively dubbed the “Friends Maker”, the world’s first puri-kura machine that allows total strangers in separate booths to make photo stickers together.

Video coverage of the event was released on May 30 and it looks like so much fun, we wish for the candy company would set up these machines in every city!

▼Red booth in Tokyo, yellow booth in Osaka:

So, are we going to meet some girls later?

In Tokyo, the “Friends Maker” was installed at the YM Square Harajuku, and in Osaka at the BIGSTEP (located in the upscale shopping district of Shinsaibashi). Both buildings are shopping-and-dining complexes where fashionable young trendies can strut their stuff, as long as they’re not breaking curfew.

▼ A view of the famed Takeshita-dōri (Street) in Harajuku:

Takeshita-dori (street) in Harajuku, Tokyo

▼ And outside BIGSTEP:

BIGSTEP in Shinsaibashi, Amemura, Osaka, American Village

▼ Before long, curious onlookers gather to see what the event’s all about!

M&M's Japan Friends Maker purikura sticker photo booth event, Tokyo & Osaka

In the first video, the Tokyo girls reveal that they think their Osaka counterparts are hilarious and fun to be around, with a penchant for gaudy clothes. Osaka girls, on the other hand, say that people in Tokyo are stylish but come off as a little cold. Indeed, many of Japan’s top comedians hail from the western part of the country, so it’s a common perception that people from Osaka are friendly and have a great sense of humor (people also like to joke that they love leopard print and wear it from head to toe), whereas Tokyo dwellers can seem reserved and a little stiff.

So, will the Friends Maker be enough to break the ice between these girls?

Once inside the booth, excited visitors see a screen that displays another group of friends who are 250 miles away. Since no one has ever met before, the girls seem a bit shy at first and one of them asks politely, “Which frame would you like?”

M&M's Japan Friends Maker event, inside purikura booth

The purikura session quickly warms up, however, thanks to the M&M’S characters’ lively onscreen navigation. At one point the guide says, “Tokyo team! If you stand too close to the front you’ll block the kids in the back, stoop down!” Soon, everyone’s smiling like they’ve known each other for years and all you can hear is, “No way! Yabai, yabai!”

A different video on M&M’S Japan’s YouTube channel revealed that while the stickers are printing, the machine will give you a bag of complimentary M&M’S. Sweet!

▼ “OMG, we’re connected?! Yabaaai!”

M&M's Japan Friends Maker event, inside purikura photo sticker booth

At this event, a total of 554 individuals made friends virtually and participated in the making of unforgettable purikura stickers. As helpful as strangers tend to be in Japan, it’s not uncommon for people to still keep their distance and not make a habit of striking up conversations with random passers-by, so many netizens commented that just watching the outgoing girls in the video gave them big smiles.

Purikura photo sticker, M&M's Friends Maker campaign

M&M's Japan Friends Maker purikura event, Tokyo and Osaka

We don’t know whether this is a one-time campaign or if more events are in the works, so for those of you who are itching to get in on some of the fun, M&M’S Japan has released a smartphone app that gives you 12 cute photo frames! For now, if you have access to the Japanese App Store (I was able to make an extra account), or if your Android device is set to Japan, you can follow the links on their official website to download the app for free.

▼ Some posts from M&M’S® Japan’s Facebook contest:

M&M's Japan Tabeppuri Facebook photo contest

▼ A sample of the app’s 12 frames:

M&M's Japan free smartphone app photo frames

▼ And hey, is RN24 friends with you now?

photo of RocketNews24 screen with M&Ms frame

Sources:  M&M’S® Japan,  Wikipedia
Images: YouTube, Friends Maker, Osaka Info
Video: YouTube
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