My Ultimate Guide to the Best Karaoke Experience in Tokyo | Solo Female Travel
When we are on a female solo trip to any country, we try to pack in as much as we can. In a few days that we manage to escape from our daily routine, we want to explore as much as we can. And if the country we are travelling to is Japan, then we are always faced with the problem of plenty.
When a country as beautiful and versatile as Japan has so much to offer, you indeed struggle to plan out an itinerary. So, what do you choose to see? Japan taking giant leaps into the future when it comes to technology? Well, if that’s your cup of tea, then the busy Shibuya crossing in Tokyo or Dotonori in Osaka is where you should be. If you love to go back in time and wade through ancient Japan, then spend a couple of days in Kyoto. Or do you want to spend your solo trip just admiring nature? Then plan the trip during cherry blossom season to see Japan washed in a hue of pink.
Why do karaoke in Japan?
But no matter what, we need time to relax and rejuvenate. And when in Japan, the best way to do that is karaoke. This is something that I always wanted to try when I was a kid. Watching all those Hollywood movies made karaoke a truly fun idea. When I grew up, karaoke became my favourite thing to do while on a night out. Thankfully, I am not tone-deaf, and I am known to be able to carry a note or two. But karaoke is not meant to be sung for hitting the right notes. It is to let out steam and have fun! But even when I was busy enjoying karaoke so much, little did I know that this originated in Japan.
That’s right! Karaoke has its roots in Japan. The name comes from Kara, which means empty, and oke, which is Japanese for orchestra. So, when you are literally in the birthplace of karaoke, it’s almost a sin not to try it, right? But if you are confused about how to go about it, don’t worry. I will share with you the ultimate guide to the best karaoke experience in Tokyo as a solo female traveller.
According to the legend, the first karaoke machine was invented by a Japanese drummer named Daisuke Inoue. This was in 1971, and he named the machine 8 Juke. He was apparently asked by many fans if they could have a pre-recorded soundtrack of his songs that they could sing to. The first machine was simple, there were only 8 tracks, and each would cost 100 yen. But it soon became a rage throughout Japan and later spread to other countries.
How much does it cost?
In most karaoke bars in Tokyo and also around the country, you are charged in two schemes: 30-minute block and free time sessions. In a 30-minute block, as the name suggests, you can book the karaoke room for a half-an-hour, and if it isn’t the peak hours, and if you go say on a weekday afternoon, the charges can be as low as 100 yen. But during peak hours it might go up to over 400 yen.
But if you opt for free time, prices may vary according to the time and the day. On a weekday and not during peak hours, it can be around 1000 yen, and that may include some drinks and food. But during weekends and peak hours, the prices may triple.
Why is this a good decision as a solo traveller?
Karaoke may seem a little daunting as a solo traveller. Singing in front of a room full of people who are strangers may not always be comfortable. But what makes the Karaoke experience in Japan different is that here you can choose to rent out karaoke rooms and avoid strangers and enjoy by yourself with the best company you could have asked for: Yourself. But this can also be a great way to make new friends. There will be many like you on their solo trips from different countries looking to have fun. Rent a karaoke room together and sing your heart out with each other. It’s a great way to know about new cultures and languages.
How to Karaoke?
Though people in Japan are some of the bests you will find in the world, not many can speak English. It is the same case in these karaoke bars. It is always advised that before you leave for Japan, you learn a few basic words in Japanese to communicate with people in the country. But don’t worry, it will not be difficult for you at all when you walk into a karaoke place. But if you are still a little intimidated, here is how you go about it once you enter the karaoke place.
1. Go to the reception
When you reach the reception area at a karaoke place, a receptionist will greet you with a smile. Greet them in Japanese as they hand out some forms that you need to fill out. You have to write your name, contact number, what kind of room you would want and how much time you would like to spend. Don’t worry if you overstay because you will only be charged when you leave. Also, most places will have a drink and some food included in the price, so be sure to ask them that.
2. Set up the room
Once you are assigned your karaoke room, go straight in. You will find a tablet which has all the songs and two microphones. Along with this, there will also be a telephone and a food and drinks menu so that you can place your order without having to leave the room. Select a song and sing away. Oh, you can break into a jig too.
3. Select your favourite song
There are mainly two brands of karaoke song choosing system in Japan. One is LiveDam, and the other is JoySound. Some karaoke places will have both, while some have one of the two. Both are controlled by the tablet provided in the karaoke room. Also, you can access different languages on them, so choosing your song in your preferred language will hardly be a problem. In the Joysound system, you can also connect your smartphone with it.
4. Eat and drink as well
It is no surprise that Japan is a foodie’s paradise, and the capital city of Japan, Tokyo, is where it all comes together beautifully. So, it’s nothing new that while you are enjoying your karaoke experience in Japan, you will indulge in different delicious delicacies. As I mentioned before, there is a phone in the room which you can pick up and order whatever your heart pleases. If your package comes with refreshments, they will be served to you, and if you have opted for nomihoudai all-you-can-drink course, you have to go and refill your glass outside the room. This will cost you somewhere around 1500 yen. Most foods served here are finger food and fried food so that it is easy for you to eat while singing and enjoying.
5. Pay when you leave
After your time slot is over or you are exhausted from singing your heart out, you can settle your bill at the front desk. Some places will give you a call 10 minutes before your session is supposed to end. At this point, you can also extend your time at the front desk.
6. Know about free time
A lot of karaoke bars in Japan have a thing called free time that you must absolutely know about before your first experience at a karaoke bar. When there are rooms free, and the crowd at a place is thin, some karaoke places might allow you to stay as long as you want for a fixed price. You can usually avail of this offer on weekdays, especially in the afternoon or after midnight.
Some of the karaoke bars you have to try out while in Tokyo
Finding a karaoke bar in Japan is not an uphill task at all. These have become synonymous with Japanese culture in the present era. But if you are in the capital city of Tokyo and if you are looking to hit a karaoke bar, here is a list of some of the best that you have to absolutely try out on your solo trip to Japan.
1. Karaoke Kan
If you are a fan of the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, you will have definitely seen the Karaoke Kan. Like most karaoke places, this is also a chain that you will find all over Tokyo, but I would suggest that you visit the Karaoke Kan store in Udagawacho just because of the brilliant movie. And if you can book one of the two rooms: 601 and 602, there’s nothing like it. Because it was in these two rooms that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson sang the now-famous songs “More Than That” and “Brass in Pocket.”
Prices here range from 300 yen on a slow day if you book the 30-minute slot to over 800-100 yen on a weekend night. This is one of the best places for karaoke in Tokyo, and you have to visit it just for nostalgia. Also, a pro tip: Karaoke Kan offers a 25% discount to their members, and membership is free. All you need is proper identification.
Food and drinks: Food here will cost you something around 400 yen here and drinks around 500 yen per drink.
Address: 30-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya 150-0042, Tokyo.
2. Pasela Akihabara
The reason why this karaoke place should be on your list of must-visit places in Tokyo is two-fold. First, the decors of each room are unique. They have anime, manga, different video game themes in these rooms, and that is extremely cool. But to take things up a notch, they also have some of the best desserts and pastries one can find in the city. You have to try out their honey toast, or you will regret it later. So, singing the song of your choice and chomping on good food at the same time, what more can one possibly want?
Food and drinks: The honey toast with all the toppings costs you around 800 yen. Pasela also serves tapas, which is priced at around 450 yen. To know more about the menu, click here.
Address: 1 Chome-6-6 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo.
3. Big Echo
Possibly the biggest Karaoke chain in the country, it is easily recognizable by its red sign with Big Echo written in white. There is a different type of rooms you can choose from, and the concept rooms are pretty elaborate in decor. Two of the best rooms here that you absolutely cannot miss on your karaoke experience are the Recording room (where you have recording equipment and you can record a song like in a studio) and the collaboration room (you can sing along with your favourite artists here).
Food and drinks: As Big Echo attract a younger demographic, they are creative when it comes to their food and drinks. The Grand menu A is perfect for a solo female traveller where you can choose from an array of lip-smacking dishes.
Address: 24-10 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
4. Big O Karaoke
When you visit Japan, you realise that the Japanese are a step ahead of the rest of the world, and they have taken everything to the next level. So, of course, it’s the same with one of their inventions: karaoke. While the world still sings karaoke in a pub or a party, in Japan, you can sing while on a Ferris wheel. I am not kidding at all!
At the Tokyo Dome City Amusement park, you can belt out chart-toppers on a 15-minute ride. In collaboration with karaoke company Joysound, they have 8 gondolas among 40, where you can sing karaoke. But yes, it will be in a group. 4 passengers in each of these 8 gondolas have to select a song before the ride begins, and then the party begins. Each ride will cost you 820 yen, and if you have stage fright and fear of heights, this is the best way to overcome it.
Food and drinks: You can eat and drink at different locations in the park.
Address: 1 Chome-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo City, Tokyo.
Perfect for just yourself, the rooms in this establishment are designed like a spaceship, and they are called a pit. Prices for each pit on a weekday are around 200 yen and can go up 400 yen on a busy evening. But entry to 1Kara is by membership only, which you can get by paying 300 yen. But if you want to enjoy karaoke by yourself, this is an absolute must-visit while in Tokyo.
Food and drinks: One drink is included in the room fee, and you can order food and desserts from their menu.
Address: 2-chome-2-9 Kajicho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo.
I’d say you don’t even think twice before heading out to a karaoke place in Japan, maybe after a day of sightseeing in Tokyo. Remember, it’s important to let your hair down once in a while. You’ve earned it.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.