Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Hours of Karaoke

I always thought of karaoke as a late-night activity performed before an entire room of strangers. However, the experience is completely different in Japan! One afternoon some girlfriends and I decided to try Big Box Karaoke without knowing exactly what to expect. We had a little trouble with communication since the man at the counter did not speak any English, and we did not know what we wanted! I finally looked up how to say "first time" in Japanese, and coupled with our blank looks he must have determined he would have to try and explain the process. He pointed to the price sheet. It was 500 yen (around $5) per person for three hours minimum. That was very reasonable, but we knew we couldn't spend three hours singing to each other! That was where we were wrong...

We were each handed a cup that we could fill at the soda machine and a thick book of all the "foreign" song selections. We were then escorted down the hall to our private room. Each room had couches for seating, a small table with a food menu, a phone, and the whole setup for karaoke. We took a good amount of time just getting settled. There was air conditioning in the room, but we had to figure out how to work the remote with only symbols as descriptions. Luckily, the tablet that controlled the audio/visual system had an English option. Phew! The phone was used to call in your food orders, but due to the language barrier we just took the menu to the man outside so we could point when we ordered a snack. It was finally time to pick out some songs and start singing!

That was our next problem. The book of song options was gigantic! It was like reading a phonebook! Even though English options were just part of the book, there were still plenty to choose from. We decided to go alphabetically by artist. We sang 90's hits from Backstreet Boys and Brittany Spears, country classics by Faith Hill, and even *tried* some Jay-Z for fun. We were there for all three hours and we only made it to the the letter J alphabetically. So obviously we will have to go back! I enjoyed singing without having to worry about making a fool of myself in front of strangers. I just made a fool of myself in front of my friends trying to rap, and that was what made it so much fun!

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