| |

So You Think You Can Sing?

 Karaoke in Japan


Before arriving in Japan, I passionately hated singing. Even the mere mention of karaoke in front of a large number of people (especially strangers) filled me with dread. Fortunately (or so I thought), the first time I came to Japan as part of a study abroad class, my fellow students were uninterested in karaoke. My first experience was not to come until the last night of Tokyo orientation. Though still shy as I was surrounded by people I did not yet know well, I had an enjoyable time. Gradually, as I went with my Ono crew more and more, karaoke came to be my favorite pastime.


The sheer number of options for karaoke, especially in large cities like Kobe and Osaka, can be dizzying. Usually the only option in rural karaoke shops is whether you use the Dam or Joysound system. Sometimes not even that is an option. For the next time you feel like belting out tunes with your buds, read on to find out more about your choices.


The Systems


Live Dam vs. Joysound
Live Dam vs. Joysound

While there is a lot of overlap between Dam and Joysound, there are many unique songs in each system. Less popular bands tend to have different song selections between the two. I’d recommend trying both out to get a feel for which song library you prefer. I haven’t noticed significant differences within each system’s offerings (Dam has Stadium, Premier, Live, and Livegold; Joysound has f1, Wave, and Crosso), though my note-taking (started recently without any karaoke sessions since) has been substandard.


Live Dam’s device on which you select songs is pretty fun. It plays little videos (which you can thankfully mute) and is easy to use. Searching through different genres is intuitive. It also has “I’ll make a Man out of You,” which is a huge plus in its favor.


Joysound’s videos tend to be of a higher quality. You can also become part of their videos by allowing them to record your performance! These can then be accessed by anyone for duets. While some of the advertised videos are adorable (such as a pair of sisters dancing together), in practice, they can be hilariously cringe-worthy. A song I like on here that I haven’t been able to find on Dam’s system is 「カゼノネ」


If you want to know what self-proclaimed experts think, a survey was given to the staff of a karoke blog: http://www.tatsumiservice.com/stland/?p=280. While many had no preference, most preferred Dam (57.7%) and only 7.7% of the staff preferred Joysound. Make sure to translate the website if you want some laughs at the pros and cons lists.


ShidaxKaraokebyTurnerfromflickrThe Places


Walking around Sannomiya looking for karaoke options is often overwhelming. Below, I will share small facts about each company. The prices listed are for one hour Saturday night in Sannomiya, with the exception of Rainbow, for which I will list the prices at two locations in Osaka.


Big Echo http://big-echo.jp/

1100円 (includes drink bar)

Most times I’ve gone to Big Echo have been rather short, the shortest being a 30 minute blitz to kill time. At some locations, they have “concept rooms,” such as elegant, kids, and restaurant. The drink bar includes slushies. I like to mix the orange one with Calpis. They often have you use Live Dam.


Jankara http://jankara.ne.jp/index.html


The potato platter is well-liked. Though cheaper than most other places without food or drink, consumables are an enjoyable addition to any karaoke session. I rarely choose Jankara as a result.


Karaoke Kan (カラオケ館) http://karaokekan.jp/index.html

800円 (must buy a drink)

The red on blue is eye-catching and at least at the Sannomiya location, you can cosplay while you sing! The rooms are outfitted with lights that flash in rhythm to your chosen song. Generally, they will give you Joysound.


Rainbow http://www.karaoke-rainbow.com/

1st hour free, every hour after 600円 (must buy a drink) (Shinsaibashi side of Dotonbori location)

500円 (must buy a drink) or 800円 with 飲み放題 (Namba side of Dotonbori location)

The cheapest option by far, Rainbow is a great karaoke option for those with a budget, or anyone that doesn’t want to pay more than necessary but still wants to avoid a dry time. Soft cream is included with their drink bar and you can drizzle various toppings onto your bowl. I’m also a fan of making floats. Rainbow is my store of choice and I’m quite sad there isn’t a Sannomiya location.


Round 1 http://www.round1.co.jp/index.html


In addition to karaoke, Round 1 also offers bowling, UFO catchers, darts, billiards, arcade games, and purikura. It is a great place for your various entertainment needs. They also have a point card which can earn you some coupons and prizes, though it does cost to get one. The Namba location is my favorite, with a Spocha pack. You can karaoke, bowl, play basketball, shoot a bow and arrow, roll around in a giant plastic bubble, play arcade games, and more to your heart’s content.


Shidax http://www.shidax.co.jp/sc/

840円 (must buy a drink)

I quite like the shoestring fries you can get here. Shidax tends to be one of the cheaper options in any given area. Their drink ordering system is on a screen and doesn’t involve talking to people. This a great attribute for introverts and those uncomfortable speaking in Japanese.


A word of warning: Be wary of karaoke shops other than these, especially if they make you pay upfront. Often, their systems are lacking in the English song department and they will refuse to return your money mere minutes after paying. Sit-ins accomplish nothing here.


DSC_0015Look around your town for non-snack bar karaoke facilities. Some of my favorite memories are of journeying to Sky in Ono with our contraband snacks and singing, dancing, and nearly avoiding spilling a drink for hours at time. Grab a friend or five, choose your time and place, and get to belting out those notes. Happy singing!


Brittany Teodorski


Similar Posts