Japan is the birthplace of karaoke, which literally means ‘empty orchestra.’ Unlike its western counterpart, Japanese karaoke takes place in private rooms at establishments known in Japan as karaoke boxes instead of big public bars, in which small groups of friends or colleagues relax by singing their favourite songs. These karaoke regulars will often turn to their juhachiban, a song they are particularly good at.
Booking a private room is usually charged per person by the hour, sometimes with a minimum drink order. The famed Japanese hospitality extends to karaoke, with many karaoke establishments also offering delicious food to keep you going as you belt out Billie Jean (the most requested karaoke song of all time).
International visitors will not find it difficult to locate one of the hundreds of thousands of karaoke boxes across Japan. Conveniently for visitors and locals alike, karaoke boxes are often found near train stations. While it is common for rooms to offer a selection of English songs, the larger chains tend to carry more up-to-date choices.
Japanese karaoke culture is a serious business in Japan, with some businessmen receiving professional coaching so they might impress their clients. However, your professional reputation isn’t on the line, so choose an establishment that suits your budget and style, and start singing!