7 Things to Remember When Trying Karaoke in Japan

  • Karaoke is a great way to pass the time while you’re in Japan. You can find karaoke bars almost anywhere, even in small towns, and they are an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy an evening or a rainy day. However, there is a little more to it than just going in, choosing your song, and belting it. Here are some things to remember when going to karaoke in Japan to make your experience more enjoyable!

    1. Know your drink options

    Most karaoke bars offer a “one drink” option, an all-you-can-drink soft drink option, and an all-you-can-drink alcohol and soft drink option. Decide beforehand what you would like to choose. If you order one drink, stick to just the one drink or you’ll be charged extra. If you’re out for the whole night, order the “nomihoudai” (all-you-can-drink) option when you first arrive.

    Changing your mind halfway through can result in a big bill at the end, so make sure you all know what drink option you’d like before you go inside.

    2. Go in the daytime to save money

    If cash is a concern and you’re just looking for a karaoke experience, consider going in the daytime. It is much cheaper than the evening and if you go around midday on a weekday, it can cost as little as just a few hundred yen! It’s completely fine to go in the evening on a weekend, but bear in mind it costs a lot more to do so.

    3. Know how to choose songs

    Karaoke bars have a sort of iPad on which you can choose songs. Find the British flag for English songs, or the Chinese and Korean flags for Chinese and Korean songs, respectively. If you want to sing a Japanese song, select “歌手” to search the singer and find the name in hiragana.

    4. Only choose the song once

    When you’ve selected a song, you may see it pop up on the big screen. In between songs, a list of titles coming up will also appear. Don’t put your song in more than once, otherwise, you will have to go through the trouble of tapping “Cancel” every time the song replays.

    5. Don’t hog it

    Singing karaoke is fun and exciting, and often once you’ve sung one title, you can’t wait to sing another one. There often seems to be that one friend who sings song after song, hogging most of the time you’ve been given. Don’t be that friend! Make sure everyone gets enough singing time. After all, you’re all splitting the bill, so split the time fairly as well.

    6. Don’t go over your time limit

    You can request extra time if you’d like, but when the staff calls the telephone in your room, it is to tell you that you have a few minutes to leave. If you go over that time, they might charge you for an extra half-hour! Once you get the phone call, finish the song you’re on and head back to the reception desk with your bill.

    7. It’s OK to go alone

    Remember that it’s perfectly okay to go to karaoke by yourself! Sometimes, belting out your favorite songs is a great stress relief. Karaoke is a social activity and great to do with friends, but don’t feel embarrassed about going alone. An hour of yelling into a microphone can do wonders for a stressful life.

    With these seven tips in mind, you’re on your way to having a super fun karaoke session in Japan! Karaoke is a fun and informal activity that almost everyone who goes to Japan loves to try. Cheer on others, eat, drink, and sing your favorite tunes at BIG ECHO, JOYSOUND, or an indie establishment and have a great time!