Is it your dream to teach English in Japan?

Photos & Photo Booths in Japan


You might not be used to providing a recent photo with your resume. In Japan that’s standard. In addition to applying for work, each time we renew a visa or passport, we need a recent photo (usually taken within the last three -six months).

There are photo booths all over Japan for this purpose, especially near stations. Prices range from 500-1000 yen and some photo booths provide fancy beautifying photos for an extra cost. You’ll get 2-6 shomei shashin (resume photos), depending on the size you choose. A lot of these machines have an English option, although they will be fairly clear on what you should do if not.

The problem with these (and getting your photo taken at any DMV in the US) is that we’re often unhappy with how the photos turn out. Some photo booths offer two or more retakes. Sometimes we still don’t like any of them.

If you have a digital camera, color printer, photo paper, and scissors, you can do this at home. You’ll also need a white or light colored background. Most of us can use our apartment walls as a background.

Setting up your camera can be done by using a selfie stick, tripod, friend, or a piece of furniture. Make sure your lighting is even and there are no shadows. (Flash photography is not ideal.) Look straight ahead at the camera and take a few shots to check the lighting. (There are also a ton of apps that help with sizing your passport and ID photos, if you’re using a smartphone camera.) The photos can be cropped later but be careful of your settings so the quality is still high enough. Most documents require photos with no hats or glasses, and note that smiling is not really encouraged.

When you have a shot you like, upload the image to a computer and use your preferred program to crop and resize it before printing. ID and resume photos in Japan are 30 x 40 mm (or 3 x 4 cm) but check your documents to make sure. Passport photos are a little more picky about the size of your head in relation to the entire photo, so keep things like this in mind. You can print as many pictures as you need, which is usually just one or two. I always print an extra one or two, in case I make a mistake cutting or need another. (Extras can always be sent to family back home for fun.)

Another option, if you don’t have a printer, is using a service at 7-11 (using a machine that looks like a simple copy machine) or another shop that will print photos for you. The cost will still be lower and you can take your own photo ensuring you’re somewhat satisfied with the result. This will usually take more time than using a photo booth, so if you’re photogenic and pressed for time, they will work fine.


There are other photo booths in Japan (Purikura), usually in game centers and malls. These are not the professional photo type, but can be fun, with tons of options (like huge eyes and cute overlays). I haven’t used one in years, but it was fun to make tiny stickers of photos with friends. I imagine snapchat is good enough for a lot of people, but some students still use these fun photo booths.

Have you ever used one?


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This entry was posted on July 12, 2017 by in Living in Japan and tagged , .

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