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Girls' Arcades in Japan
When I think of arcades, I think of gender neutral (if not clearly masculine) places. Depending on the arcade, people inside will either be a mixture of guys and girls... or almost entirely male, and most of the games present will be oriented toward sports or shooting.
Japanese arcades fundamentally changed the way I look at arcade games, because, while they do house some great fighting and sports-oriented games, they also have incredible games with decidedly feminine themes!
This refreshingly femmy games pack the strongest punch in arcades that are specifically targeted toward girls. There are, as it happens, quite a few of them throughout Japan!
Though claw crane games are pretty common in all countries, those in Japanese arcades oriented toward girls are stuffed with the CUTEST things! Also, the dancing games go way beyond basic DDR in terms of creativity. Take, for example, Para Para Paradise (PPP), an arcade game that detects your arm movements as you follow an avatar on the screen in busting sweet Para Para dance moves.
The arcade in this video is located in Shibuya, Tokyo.
What's your favorite girly arcade game?
Perhaps the most influential, popular, and iconic girls' arcade game installment in Japanese arcades (and now, in many American arcades) is the purikura booth. Purikura is Japanese for "Print Club." Purikura booths are basically traditional photo booths with a ton of added features.
Purikura booths started out offering just simple enhancements- printing stickers instead of plain photos and adding the ability to embellish portraits with little stars and other cutesy images on top of your photo, for example- but have since become super-advanced production booths equipped with Photoshop-like image editing abilities, green screens, and more.
You can actually see the effect that the growing popularity of purikura has had on Japanese culture by seeing how normal photos have evolved over the years. Back in the '80s, most folks looked quite conservative in photos- even smiling was not the norm. Today, poses are extra cute, and even the traditional peace or victory sign is seen as mundane. Girls instead opt for modified peace signs, other hand signals, and carefully angled faces (to maximize that uber-kawaii sweet spot they've honed in over 100s of mini photo shoots).
Though I'm obviously over-excited about purikura, it is just one of many fascinating Japanese arcade games targeted towards predominantly female audiences. If you find yourself in the country, you MUST keep a lookout for girls' arcades, and keep a pocket full of loose change so you can have a go at the fun games once you come across one!