Chris and I boarded our flight to Tokyo knowing little about what to expect when we landed in Japan. The extent of our research for the trip was a Japan Guide website and Will Ferguson’s book, “Hitching Rides with Buddha” (which turned out to be extremely entertaining, might I add).
The book mentioned Karaoke as being a unique (belligerent) must-do, but I thought nothing of it as I have never been a proponent for karaoke. In fact, I had prided myself in successfully avoiding the traditional karaoke bar scene at all times. It had never appealed to me.
But Chris and I differ greatly on the topic.
In his prime, you could find Chris any night of the week at his favorite, hole in the wall, karaoke bar in Canton, Waltz Inn. He dragged me there a time or two, but I’ve always refused to sing along.
But Japan changed everything.
It was our first night in Tokyo and our hostel gave us a free drink ticket to the downstairs bar upon our arrival. With “free” being the most exciting word a long term traveler can hear, we were eager to take advantage of it. We ordered sake in a box and enjoyed the generous portions that our new friend, Ami, was pouring.
Of course one sake led to a few more.
Which led to making friends with all of the other travelers in the hostel bar.
And I’m not positive who brought it up first (I’m positive it was Chris) but before we knew it, we were all pre-gaming for an epic evening of karaoke at the local DonQuixote!
In Japan, there are huge buildings, multiple floors, dedicated to karaoke rooms. You rent out an entire room with your group and for about the price of $35 USD per person, you can enjoy all you can drink of premium liquor and drinks and all you can sing with thousands of titles, all in English. There wasn’t a song we couldn’t find on the list.
By the time eleven rolled around, there were about eight of us from the hostel bar that were ready to take on the Japanese karaoke experience. There was no holding back by anyone once the lights went out and the awkward Japanese music videos came on. The songs didn’t cease until 4:30am the next morning and I’m pretty sure our playlist spanned every genre and era, from Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror to John Denver’s Take Me Home.
We went in as eight strangers and came out the next best boy/girl band. Here’s proof with Bohemian Rhapsody (please excuse Chris falling on the table, he was excited)…
I’m not sure whether I’ve completely softened up to karaoke, but I can assure you, Japanese karaoke is a game changer.
Here’s a video of the aftermath. And if you’re wondering, yes, we ended the night with Dancing Queens – we had a couple Swedes in our crew, they gave us no choice!!