So, if you’re like me, when I was in America we didn’t have Japanese style karaoke places where I live. I always wondered what Karaoke would be like; would I get shy, would it be expensive, what songs would they have, could I drink, what food was available?
I will attempt to share what I have learned in the three months I have lived here regarding karaoke, because it turned out to be a really fun, and great bonding opportunity with friends!
It depends on where you go, what time of the day, and which day of the week you want to go sing your heart out. In Japan, the walls are pretty thin, so it’s not like you can just belt out Utada Hikaru whenever you want. Or maybe that’s just me. For those on a budget, during the week, and during the day is the best time to go. This is before people get off work and the rates increase for the night time singers. They charge by the hour, I think about 2-3 hours is a good amount of time. However, I’m sure if you have a coupon, the rates could get even lower. Each karaoke place may also offer 飲み放題（のみほうだい）nomihoudai or bottomless cup, all you can drink rates, a simple soda and ice cream bar, costumes, and food! I am sure there are some more amenities that are offered. I just don’t have the experience of going there yet.
For me personally, I like to go for about 3 hours with some friends, my favorite place offers a soda bar, 飲み放題 nomihoudai, and food. But we usually just choose the soda bar, and order a plate of food to share. If I want one drink I get it. I’m all for the cheapest possible option because I’m a college student!
For the first question I had in America, “Would I get shy?”. The answer is yes and no. At first, you may think you need to be the world’s next Mariah Carey. The reality is, you aren’t going there to be a superstar, you are going in order to have fun singing with friends. My first time, I was overwhelmed by just BEING in Japan so I didn’t sing that much. However, the second time I went out for karaoke, I just went with it, and had lots of fun. You won’t always be on key, or know the words, but neither will anybody else, so let yourself go and enjoy the experience! The best part is, I always look forward to singing at karaoke now.
“Is it expensive?” This is also a yes and no answer. It all really depends on the place you go, and what you want to do. For me, I would rather just go and have fun, I don’t really care about having fancy food or dressing up. I pay anywhere from $10-$20 every time I go, and that’s everyone paying for their share equally when I go to karaoke. If you get nomihoudai, from my experience when we accidentally got charged, it was about $40.
“What songs do they have?” EVERYTHING. They offer Korean, Japanese, Popular American Pop songs, and even some old stuff! I personally always sing some Disney, Utada, and a mix of whatever I’m trying to learn in Japanese. Karaoke can really help with your reading skills if you let it! So try some songs in Japanese!
“Can I drink? What food is available?” YES! You can drink as long as you’re 20 and over. Don’t drink if you’re underage, you can get in trouble. As far as food goes, there are lots of finger foods, ramen, pizza, fried foods, etc. Some places even offer nice desserts! I go to a place that has soda and ice cream included in the price, so we make melon soda floats all the time. The food has always been of edible quality too!
If you have any questions about karaoke, leave them in the comments, I’d be happy to answer!