by renjith krishnan

Okay, so it is Friday night. You are out with your friends and none of you want to go to a club or a bar, but still want to have some fun. What do you do? The answer is obvious: karaoke.

The Japanese love karaoke. They love it like a fat kid loves cake. And coming from a former fat kid, now a fat adult, that is an insane level of love; bordering on obsession. But that’s okay, because Karaoke in Japan is pretty awesome.

In Japan the most popular venue for karaoke is the karaoke box. With a karaoke box, you sign in at the reception desk and receive a room key. This goes to your private karaoke room where you can sing, eat and drink to your heart, or your wallet’s, content. You are charged by the hour and pay when you leave.

The benefit of the karaoke box, is that instead of being in a large bar hall where you must sing in front of strangers you can have a private room and sing only in front of friends. This lower the intimidation factor and really allows you to cut loose and sing that Spice Girl song you’ve had stuck in your head since grade school.

Karaoke is great for a group or even just two people. The one problem with Karaoke in Japan, at least if you’re an English speaker, is the lack of English songs. The selection of English songs, at least when compared to the selection of French or German songs, isn’t bad at all, just not as comprehensive as some would like. The extremely popular pop and rock songs from 10 years ago will be there, but newer or less popular stuff, probably won’t be. For English songs it is best to stick to the bigger and more prominent chains, like Joy Joy, Karaoke Pal or Big Echo.