Karaoke rooms have touch-screen tablets through which you select your songs!
Don't worry - in karaoke rooms in Japan you will be able to read the words of English songs in English!
It is not difficult to find a karaoke room in Japan, simply look for the symbols カラオケ
Credit: Dick Johnson
Karaoke is a favourite Japanese pastime. There are about 10,000 karaoke rooms in Japan.
Credit: @ keshi ta kimi
Sing your heart out
In Japan, karaoke is more than just entertainment: it's a massive entertainment industry. You can sing karaoke anywhere, not just in major cities. Just wander around any train station and look for these symbols: カラオケ.
Legend goes that in mid 1970s, in a bar in Kobe or Osaka, there was a guitarist who had turned his back on his band playing that night: the owner of the bar then decided to just play a cassette for support and offered to sing...
The "empty orchestra" (空 kara + オーケストラ okesutora = kara-oke) was born! This also happened at a time when music was on the cusp of a digital revolution: the emergence of the compact disc would soon mean a massive transformation of this leisure industry.
Karaoke hit Japan in the '80s, greeted by huge success. Today, almost all Japanese sing karaoke - with colleagues or friends, to pass the time, or to celebrate the signing of a contract. The country has about 10,000 karaoke establishments that generate around 10 million US dollars per year.
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Sing in comfort
Karaoke in Japan usually takes place in the privacy of a private room. There, everything is ready for you: microphones, touch-screen tablets for selecting songs, a large TV screen, and even tambourines for those who'd rather not sing.
30 minutes, two hours, or all night, it's up to you. Food and drink services are often offered in addition to rental prices. Everything is provided to make you feel relaxed. Some rooms have invested in unique decorations, while others have appeared in movies, like the famous Karaoke Kan in Lost in Translation.
A song for everyone
With international songs, J-pop, enka (Japanese ballads) and more, there's something for everyone, and the song directory is available as a printed book or tablet. But beware, it is best to know how to read Japanese (at least the hiragana) to enjoy the Japanese songs, as very few rooms offer subtitles in romaji (the western alphabet). However, foreign songs are displayed in their respective language.
Karaoke rooms are generally open 24/7 and throughout the year. Prices vary by day (weekends cost more) and by place. At night, you can count on an average price of around 1,000 to 4,000 yen per hour per person (depending on the options you choose, for example nomihodai, all-you-can-drink).