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.
Miyajima Island is located a ferry ride away from Hiroshima. It is a very popular place to visit for a day trip or relaxing weekend at one of the island's ryokans. Miyajima is known for various seafood offerings and other street food items. There are plenty of restaurants and food stalls available to try a little bit of everything. However, few restaurants are open for dinner due to many tourists leaving the island by 6 p.m. Some tourists do stay overnight at a ryokan or hotel.
Oysters are a real treat on Miyajima Island. You can get amazing oysters roasted, fried, or raw (when in season). Various restaurants serve delicious oyster dishes. You can also try one at a food stall. If you have a love for seafood and shellfish, this is not something that can be missed.
Conger Eel dishes are also a local specialty. The most common dish is conger eel over rice. You may be able to find sushi-style eel on the island depending on the season and availability.
A popular street food item is momiji manju (momiji is maple leaf). They are maple leaf shaped steamed buns with a sweet-bean or other sweet filling. You can see them available in windows or in boxes at gift shops.
One more thing worth trying is the beer from Miyajima Brewery. Their Pale Ale is quite good. Be sure to try one of their brews while enjoying lunch or dinner.
There are other great food items such as fried seafood cakes and conch available across the island. Be sure to indulge in local delicacies while visiting Mijajima Island.
Day 9: Saturday 9 am X/X/2017
It is time to make your way back to Tokyo. Take a Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka Station and transfer lines to Tokyo Station. The ride back is a bit long, but should allow enough time to enjoy Tokyo for the afternoon and evening. Try staying in a different neighborhood than the first leg of the journey. If you did not stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku, they are fun areas that have stops along the NEX Express back to Narita Airport. Check into your lodging location and enjoy the sights and sounds of a new area of Tokyo. You can try getting tickets to a Giants baseball game, visit one of the many history and art museums, or shop along Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Try to plan for one last sushi, ramen, or your favorite dish as a final night farewell.
Day 10: Sunday X/X/2017
Depending on your flight home from Narita Airport, you may have an opportunity to use the luggage storage at your lodging location or a storage locker. Yoyogi Park is a great place for a morning stroll if you are near Shibuya or the Imperial Palace East Gardens near Tokyo Station (closed Mondays and Fridays). If you are staying near the NEX Express stop at Shibuya or Shinjuku, expect an hour train ride back to Narita Airport. Tokyo Station's NEX Express stop is a bit closer. Once you arrive at Narita Airport, be sure to drop off any cell phone or wireless hotspot rentals in a red mailbox or at the post office located in your departing terminal. Once through the checkpoints, there is a final opportunity to purchase gifts and souvenirs at one of the duty-free shops. Know the rules about bringing purchased duty-free alcohol on planes if you have connecting flights after leaving Japan. Also, there is a currency exchange booth after the checkpoint if you want to convert your remaining Yen. Grab snacks and drinks for the flight home and say goodbye to Japan for now.