Sing the Night Away! A Beginner’s Guide to Going to Karaoke in Japan

Karaoke is a form of entertainment that originated in Japan. Those who are going to karaoke for the first time may be wondering how it all works. With that in mind, here is a beginner's guide to karaoke.

Head to the Front Desk

When you reach the karaoke place, make your way to the front desk. In some places, the counter for checking in to a karaoke room and the counter for settling your bill when you leave are separate, so proceed to the check-in counter.

Choose How Long You Want to Sing

There are a lot of places that charge per 30 minutes used, so tell the person at reception how long you would like to stay in intervals of 30 minutes, e.g. 2 hours or 2 hours 30 minutes. If you plan on staying for a long period of time, there is also the option of paying a fixed fee for what is known as a "free-time" package, in which you can stay for as long as you want.
※There are some places where limits apply to free time packages.

Tell Them the Number of People

The size of the room you are placed in is based on the size of your group. Some karaoke places even have "party rooms" big enough for 20 people.

Smoking or Non-smoking?

If there are smokers in your group, you will be offered a smoking room. If not you will be offered a non-smoking room.

*There are some places that offer non-smoking rooms only.

Pick a Plan (E.g. All-you-can-drink Plans, Plans with Free Alcohol or No Alcohol)

You may wish to add an optional plan to your stay such as those that provide access to a drink bar or an all-you-can drink menu. In many places a one drink minimum per person system may apply.

When You Have Reached Your Room

You are now ready to start singing!
Pick the songs that you want to sing and send them to the machine.

Use a Remote to Pick Songs

Use the remote control function on the touch screen display to select songs by artist name, song name, or other factors, such as popularity ranking. If your choice of karaoke place operates via a book-based system, find the number that corresponds to your chosen song in the book and enter it into the machine via the remote control.

Browse the Menu and Order Some Food or Drink via the Phone or the Remote

The food and drink menu will be placed on the table in front of you, so place your order via the telephone attached to the wall or by using the remote control display. If using a telephone, all you have to do is pick it up and it will connect directly to the front desk.

Sing it Loud and Sing it Proud

From the kind of hits to get a party hopping to sweet ballads, sing out your favorite hits loud and proud!

Change Settings like Microphone Effects and Volume

You can change the settings of things like the microphone echo and volume from the remote or by directly using the machine found next to the monitor. Many karaoke tracks have a guide melody to make it easier to sing along with the lyrics, but for those of you who do not need this you are able to turn it off.

Take Your Karaoke to the Next Level with Maracas and Tambourines!

To really get the party started you will need some maracas and tambourines. If they aren't available in the room, then you will be able to rent them if you contact the front desk. There are even some places where you can dress up in school uniforms and Chinese dresses.

Take Your Billing Voucher to the Desk and Pay Your Bill

Between 5 and 10 minutes before your time is up, you will get a call from the reception desk (there are some places where this does not happen). Tidy up the room and get ready to leave so that you get out on time.

Hand Over the Billing Voucher That You Were First Given When You Entered the Establishment

If you were handed a billing voucher when you entered the building, hand it over at the front desk when you are ready to settle your bill. If you have borrowed any maracas, tambourines, or clothes for dressing up, hand them back at this time.

Points to Note

The billing system for karaoke may be a little difficult to understand, so take note of the following two points.

Be Aware of That the Prices for Daytime and Evening Are Different

In a lot of places the boundary between afternoon and evening fee plans is placed at 6:00pm. You are allowed to use karaoke rooms across both the afternoon and evening but the evening portion will be subject to the more expensive fee. If you register as a member of a particular karaoke company, you can get a get a small discount on the rate for non-members.

There Are Some Places Where Your Staying Time Will Be Automatically Extended

If you stay past your intended finishing time, there are some places in which your plan will automatically be extended and you will have to pay for the extra time. Depending on the place, you may not get a phone call to let you know that your time is ending, so even if you are having a great time, make sure not to forget your leaving time.

This is the general flow of things from when you get into a karaoke place to when you leave. Once you have this down, all that is left to do is pick your plan and enjoy your stay.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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