Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
Karaoke - How To Enjoy The Services Of A Karaoke Facility In Japan
Written by Anna
Have you ever thought about using a karaoke facility in Japan? We introduce here the whole procedure to make sure you have a smooth experience and lots of fun!
What Is Karaoke?
Karaoke (short for "empty orchestra" in Japanese) is a type of entertainment that was developed in Japan. The customers of a karaoke facility get to sing along to the music that flows as an accompaniment, while following the lyrics shown on a display.
Let's Actually Enjoy Karaoke!
We went to a famous Japanese karaoke facility called JOYSOUND, located nearby the western exit of Shinjuku station. We had three college students - a Polish person, a Singaporean and a Japanese - experience karaoke. We will introduce here how to do the procedures, from entering a common karaoke store to leaving the facility.
1. Go to the Reception Counter
Most karaoke stores have two windows at the counter. One of them is the reception and the other is the payment counter. If there aren't any staff, ring the bell. Tell the staff the number of the people in your group and how long you want to sing. Most stores have set prices for set lengths of time. On the board in the front of the store it was stated that the fee is 200 yen for 30 minutes per person. Be sure to check out the details regarding the price in advance. If we use this as an example, if you use the facility for two hours, it will be 200 x 4=800 yen per person.
At the counter you can also order drinks. You can either ask for individual drinks or request the nomihodai (all you can drink) service. Some stores have the "one drink rule" where you have to order at least one drink. If they tell you to order a drink, let's order a drink. The stores offer a wide variety of drinks for you to choose from.
Some stores in Japan are offering a free time system. The free time system is a system where the price is set for a certain period of time and you can sing for as long as you want during the free time. Most stores offer it for 1000 yen or 2000 yen. During busy periods some stores have a time limit. If you're going to sing for a long period of time the cost performance is recommended.
2. Head to the Karaoke Room
When you have finished the procedures, the staff will give you a number. Go to the room with that number.
Depending on the chain, some stores will have a drink bar set up. If you ordered the drink bar at the reception counter, you can use this time to get your drinks. JOYSOUND in Shinjuku boasts the most up to date drink machines that offer over 100 types of drink combinations. There are the regular juices, hot coffee, strawberry au lait, and many more options.
Depending on the store, there are places where you can lend tambourines or Maracas, for the singing experience to be even more fun. In some cases you can ask the staff about them if you don't see them in your room.
3. Select a Song
Finally we're in the karaoke room! The equipment includes a remote control, a TV display that shows the lyrics of the songs, and microphones. This room also has a microphone stand!
Now, let's input the songs so we want to sing. Recently, support in various languages has become available, making it easy to handle the karaoke equipment even if you don't understand Japanese. (English/Chinese/Korean support available).
You can select your favorite songs by searching the artist first or searching for the song title. We found our song by the artist's name. In order to find it, insert first the artist's name.
Next, select the song.
Then you will see a page displaying the details of the song. At this point you should press Send. The song starts playing immediately. If you want to adjust the microphone or music volume use the remote control buttons shown in the picture or turn the dial on the karaoke machine.
When the song plays, you can start singing! Let's have fun!
The lyrics show up on the TV screen, so let's sing while looking at the lyrics. The lyrics change colors as the song keeps going on so you can easily tell what part you have to sing.
By the way, you can reserve more than one song. If you keep inputting songs they'll be stocked in order. If you don't like to being interrupted during your groove make sure to input a lot of songs in advance.
4. Ordering Food
Don't you become hungry when singing? At usual karaoke facilities you can order food. You place an order by using the receiver on the wall. If you take this receiver, you will be automatically connected to the front desk and you can tell them what you wish from the menu. The staff will bring the food up to your room. If you're not confident enough to speak in Japanese on the phone, you can call the staff to the room and point at the pictures on the menu.
Just like at JOYSOUND in Shinjuku, you can usually order also just by remote control. Even in the stores where both options are available, it's more common to call and speak to the front desk.
This is the Carbonara pasta we ordered, a very delicious meal. They also serve takoyaki (fried octopus), so it's a great chance to try it for the first time.
5. Exit the Room and Pay the Bill
Time goes by so fast. Make sure to start getting ready to leave 5 - 10 minutes before your set time expires. Please be careful because if you go over the time limit you might have to pay an additional fee.
Bring the paper you received at the entrance, and return to the reception counter so that you can pay at the counter. You pay here for everything, including the regular fee and drink/food fees.
Service Offered Only by JOYSOUND
We have introduced to you how everything is done in a Japanese karaoke facility. There are many karaoke stores in Japan, but each one has its own special features. This time we will be introducing the services offered by JOYSOUND.
1. Foreign Language Support
First, this store offers a menu in English for international visitors to Japan. To make the complicated fee systems easier they have prepared a course menu: 1 hour is 1,500 yen, 2 hours cost 3,000 yen, 3 hours cost 4500 yen.
2. Smartphone Movie Sending - Sing Using the Video Recorded by Yourself
This a smartphone only application called "Kyokunavi JOYSOUND". After downloading it you can select one of the videos on your smartphone to use as karaoke song background video. It's fun to sing while your memories are displayed on the screen.
3. Become A Musician Now - Enjoy Playing an Instrument
After downloading the application called "Become a musician now", this will be a smartphone function using your phone. Drums, guitars, pianos, and 10 types of musical instruments are prepared. Even if you can't play a musical instrument there's no need to worry. The app fixes the sound automatically so as long as you follow the rhythm, it will play by itself.
So, what do you think about going to karaoke in Japan? The three students we followed in this article have had a great time singing their favorite anime songs. Music is something that goes beyond nationality and makes everyone happy. When coming to Japan, do try going to karaoke and have fun!