When we visited Japan we knew exactly what we wanted to do in both Hiroshima and Kyoto. They were easy – they had designated attractions that were obvious and historical. Places we couldn’t miss! But when it came to planning our adventures in Tokyo, we were at a loss. Tokyo has no distinctive genre of attractions. It’s a melting pot of weirdness combined with electronics combined with futuristic tech combined with history combined with masses upon masses of people. We just knew one thing, we had to go sing karaoke in Japan.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
〒114-0034 Tokyo, Kita, Kamijujo, 2-27-16 大庄十条ビル2~5階
Hours: 11a – 5a
Price: 125¥ – 1500¥ ($1 – $15 USD)
Karaoke originated in Japan in the 1970’s. Translated, it means empty orchestra. For 20 years no one else in the world grabbed onto this singularly unique activity and the Japanese perfected it. They created karaoke boxes where people could go and sing as loud and proud as they wanted without disturbing anyone in acoustically challenged rooms. To date there are over 100,000 karaoke boxes in Japan.
A karaoke box is a sound proofed room in a building specifically designated to house tons of these rooms. You can rent out this room by yourself, or with a group of friends. You rent the room as long as you want, and you are charged by the half hour. Songs can be sung in Japanese or in English with accompanying subtitles.
Weekdays during the matinee hours are the cheapest time for your family to sing karaoke in Japan. There aren’t many other people there, as it is typical business hours, and you won’t have to wait for a room. After checking in, you choose a start time, and then are led up to a room. Rooms come in varying sizes depending on how large your party is. We were in very small room, about seven feet across and 12 feet in length. It is totally sound proofed, and you can only hear faint noise when outside of the room getting your hot corn drink. You are given a couple microphones, tambourines, and a digital device to operate the karaoke machine.
The rooms are not air conditioned. I don’t know if the sound interferes with acoustics, if the humidity messes with the karaoke machines, or if it’s by design to move people through faster, but after an hour we were all dripping with sweat. Japan is hot in the middle of summer, and up on the 3rd floor we were sweltering. Our digital karaoke remote didn’t work very well, and it was frustrating trying to select songs. You can’t, or we couldn’t figure out how to, fast forward through songs. We added several songs multiple times because the buttons didn’t indicate they were working. We did find pointing the remote directly at the machine helped somewhat, and you could push songs ahead in the queue instead of fast forwarding through unwanted songs.
Admission also includes access to the soda fountain. Depending on the establishment, other refreshments and menu options may be available as well. Fantasy Karaoke had a soda fountain with typical fanta products, but they also had a corn drink. It came out of the fountain piping hot, and smelling strongly of butter. I was not enticed to try it, but figured when in Japan. I only took one sip. It was the literal equivalent of liquefied corn on the cob, and easily the craziest drink I’ve ever tried.
► For Kids: This is such a fun activity! There are plenty of pop songs, Disney songs, and old fashioned songs that even Mom and Dad know. No one will be watching or judging you, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is no bar and no audience. The whole experience was fascinating. It’s such a different experience than in the states, and in the states of course, our children wouldn’t have the opportunity to sing karaoke until they were 21. Our kids really got into it, especially our six year old daughter. Guess what she’s getting for Christmas? This is the ultimate way to do karaoke; you don’t want to miss this activity when you come to Tokyo!
The longer we stayed in Tokyo and explored, the more we came to realize how much this city has to offer. You could get lost for days and never come up for air, and you wouldn’t repeat any activity twice.
► Nap-Time Version: That time our family rick-rolled you singing karaoke in Japan.