Japan's cities are covered with numerous karaoke shops open all hours of the day and night. Whether it is a Sunday afternoon or 3 a.m., chances are you can find a karaoke shop open. There are a number of branded shops such as King of System and Big Echo with similar rates, song choices, and other offerings.
Renting a Room
When you visit a karaoke shop, they will ask how many people and for how long do you want to stay. There are themed rooms and larger rooms available for extra fees at some locations. Standard rooms will have a television screen, a karaoke machine with touch screen, seating, two microphones, and a table to place drinks and food. There is a phone in the room to call for a drink or food order as well as extend your time. Do not expect the person on the other end to speak English. Karaoke shops can get quite busy on the weekends; especially in the evenings.
Karaoke is charged by 30 minute and 1 hour blocks of time. The weekday rates are generally half the cost of weekend rates. There are unlimited time options available during certain non-peak hours (usually very late at night). Some shops will charge very high premiums on weekend peak hours. Expect to pay around $2 to $3 per half hour per person (not per room) during weekdays and $4 to $6 per half hour per person on the weekends. Depending on the time, shops may require a drink purchase per person to get a room.
Drink and Food Options
You can purchase unlimited drink packages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) for your rental time. Prices are per person and vary depending on the packages and time of room rental. You may also purchase individual beverages as well. Food options are available at some locations. You can place orders with the room rental or later from the phone in the room. Don't forget to ask for drink refills as time flies fast during karaoke.
The karaoke machine has an English option for selecting songs on a touch screen. You can search by artist, category, song name, and other search filters. The library of songs is massive. There are plenty of Japanese and American songs to sing. The variety of music genres is also impressive. You will find everything from the disco era, classic rock, modern pop, electronic dance music, and much more. The issue is more about having a limited time to sing your favorite songs versus finding them.
Karaoke is a great activity for small groups or even just the experience. While it can get quite expensive when going on the weekend and including a drink package, it is a worthwhile experience. Definitely take an opportunity to try it out on a future trip.
I wanted to share the news that I will be running a one hour panel at Ichibancon in Concord, NC on January 13th 2018 at 6 p.m. The panel is titled The Unofficial Survival Guide: Traveling to Japan. I will cover some of the topics found in the archives along with a plethora of additional tips for anime and manga enthusiasts. There will be time at the end for a Q&A session as well. If you are going Ichibancon, stop by and say hi or catch me in the halls on Saturday. For more information and a schedule of events, check out the Ichibancon website.
I would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family over the holiday weekend.
Homewood Suites By Hilton Concord Charlotte - Location for Ichibancon 2018
While exploring Japan, you will likely come across outdoor food stalls at festivals and around tourist areas such as temples and parks. These stalls feature various assortments of Japanese food as a snack, meal, or dessert. It is rare to see people walking around holding food items on the streets, but there are exceptions to every rule. Here are a few of the common food items you should try on your next adventure around Japan.
Karaage is a Japanese style of fried chicken served on a stick. It is very tasty and a great snack to eat while wandering the grounds of a festival.
Yakitori is something you may have heard of when people talk about Japanese food. It is as simple as grilled chicken on a stick. There are a few different styles of yakitori such as different parts of a chicken (liver, tail, neck) or different styles of marinade.
Okonomiyaki is famous in the Osaka region, but can be eaten in many other places. Different regions of Japan serve the dish in their own way. At its core, Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake with meat (usually pork) and vegetables. Some styles contain noodles as well.
Takoyaki are balls of pancake batter containing pieces of octopus. They are usually topped off with a sauce, seaweed flakes, and/or bonito flakes. Takoyaki is very popular and a staple of festival food options.
Ramune is a carbonated soda widely available in Japan and around the world. While you may have tried one of these "marble" drinks before; Japan offers them in a wide assortment of interesting and unusual flavors.
There are plenty of other great festival foods to try, but you should definitely try some of these during your next trip to Japan.