Notes from Japan: karaoke by Mo


I suppose that all the followers of “Diary on board” already know that in Japan, the word KARAOKE refers to centers where private rooms are rented to sing and hang out with your friends, and not to cocktail bars where you have to sing In front of strangers. It is true that in some bars and pubs (mostly known as “snacks”) there are karaoke machines and customers take turns singing while having drinks, but these “snacks” - usually offered by male clientele and over 50 years- they do not consider themselves Karaokes, but it is a service more than they offer.

Shanghai karaoke room, very modern as you can see.

Let us return to real karaokes; that is, to the KARAOKE BOX. In Japan, karaokes are usually open 24 hours a day, and the rooms are rented after 30 minutes. When you enter a karaoke, the first thing they ask you is how long you will be (although then you can go on lengthening as you wish) and what model of karaoke machine you prefer. This is because the machine can vary according to the room and, although clients usually do not have many hobbies in this regard, sometimes it may happen that you prefer the UGA model to BB CYBER or BOSE, for example. The difference between them is basically technical (sound quality, more echo) but it is also true that some have more selection of foreign songs, better background videos, or even more quality in the transcription of the lyrics. Families or parents with young children can also request a children's room, where the seats are lower and there are games for the little ones to hang out. There are other room options, such as “和 室 wa-shitsu” or Japanese, the “special room” (more spacious and “chic” than the others) etc. but this will already depend on the dimensions of the center, since not everyone offers so much variety.

The price can vary greatly depending on the day and time you go, being Friday night, Saturday and Sunday the most expensive days. In addition, it is important to know that in most karaokes you pay per person, not per room, so not being a large group is cheaper. In other Asian countries such as Korea or China, it is usually paid per room, but today in Japan there are not many centers that use this system.

In full action, with tambourines and food to spend the evening.

In addition to giving free rein to the Pavarotti you have inside, in karaokes you can also put on your boots eating and drinking. In principle the menu is like that of the Japanese "family restaurant"; that is, you can find everything from hamburgers, pizzas, chips and ice cream cups, to sushi, sashimi, shabu-shabu, salads, tako-yaki or tempura. As for the drink there is also enough to choose from, and there is even the option of open bar, usually for customers who will be more than two hours.

It is also important to know that if you become a member (usually it is free) you can count on numerous discounts and access promotions.

I am a member of SHIDAX one of the largest karaoke networks in Japan that is even advertised on television, U-BOU and KARAOKE MANEKI NEKO, much more simple, but with unbearably cheap prices.

I would not know which of them is better, since everyone has their details with the client. In MANEKI NEKO, for example, for the modest price of 600 yen you can spend 9 hours singing: from 11am to 8pm., And they also offer free ice cream bar (vanilla soft-cream) and free non-alcoholic drinks (coffee, tea, various juices). Who gets tired of singing can get distracted by reading manga that, although I am not an expert on the subject, I understand that they have a fairly complete and updated collection. In SHIDAX they do not fall short in promotions; like the birthday one, in which they offer free cake and drinks for you and all your companions if you go during the week before or after your birthday.