Karaoke in Japan

Karaoke fans in their natural habitat

I found this old draft I wrote a long time ago when I didn’t seem to understand the utility of full stops nor the lack of utility of excess capital letters. In fact I seem to demonstrate comprehensive problems with grammar. Regardless, I think its still informative for anyone going to Japan so thought I would post it. Originally it was meant for this review blog Tokyo Review  we used mostly as a ruse to get free stuff in Japan:  “We have a sign and a camera with a large zoom function – of course we should be on the guestlist!”.


Whether you’re from the drink-all-you-can-physically-injest-and-murder-Radiohead school of Kareoke or the sit quietly-at-the-side sipping-a -cocktail-waiting-your-turn-before-knocking-out-a-note perfect-Maria-Carey school of Kareoke.  It is without doubt THE essential past time that any self respecting resident of or visitor to Tokyo; culture vulture, pisshead or otherwise must engage in at least tri-weekly for the duration of their stay in Japan

You might guess at this point that Tokyo Review is a little bit of a fan of the Karaoke and you would be right – IN JAPAN. Tokyo review hates Karaoke in the UK as much it hated The Passion of the Christ. But Karaoke is karaoke oui? NON!

In England Karaoke is synonymous with tacky bars, football teams singing Wonderwall and student nights.  The poor wailing protagonist has to sing in front of a bar of strangers with inevitably humiliating results and when they aren’t singing they must sit listening to tone deaf strangers do the same. In a nutshell this can be described as at best extremely un-fun and at worst tortuous to the ordinary civilian (To make matters worse there is almost always the Pop Idol  wannabes that populate the Kareoke bars warbling half rate ballads in the delusional hope of getting “spotted”  by a passing EMI executive.)

In Japan by contrast, in accordance with the reserved nature of Japanese national character they rent you your own room (or if there is only a few of you, it’s more accurate to call it a booth) – at a stroke eliminating the problem of humiliation in front of strangers and of the torture of said strangers rendition of Whitney Huston making your ears bleed.

The most important element however that comes largely as standard is the nomihodai by drinks deal. This, for those not in the know, means unlimited drinks for the duration of your stay. They are provided by waiters who work at the beckon call of the booze hotline telephone that is stationed in every room. Given that it costs on average 1000yen an hour per person to rent a room, and that a beer in a typical bar costs a minimum of 600 yen consequently makes Karaoke clubs comfortably the cheapest place to drink (or more accurately get drunk) in Japan.

Thus what that leaves you is a room, a karaoke machine with only your mates, and a five by five metres room free from embarrassment. Much like dancing naked in the mirror to Rod Stewart (or whatever) you can really let go without a worry nor listen to some hapless stranger kill songs.  When its just you and your mates devoid of the inhibitions induced by strangers I guarantee you will be shocked at the results.   You will witness previously quiet mates giving an unbridled rendition of Paint it Black with full on Jagger dance and pout.  You will see your female friends throb to Like a Virgin and you will discover that you actually only know the chorus to “Rio”.  Whatever Tokyo review is certain you will agree that its an unbeatable lark.


If you haven’t already experienced the joy that Karaoke in Japan yields then Tokyo Review recommends that you drop whatever at you are doing at this very moment round up some friends and commandeer your nearest Karaoke house’s nearest room.

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About Paul David Beaumont

Occasional journalist, part-time socialist & full time International Relations PhD student. Available for hire - but never in the morning. Academia page: https://umb.academia.edu/PaulBeaumont
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