The FunKaraoke brings out the wild side in almost everyone. Seemingly shy people are the most likely to be genki at karaoke.
Finding KaraokeKaraoke can be found in entertainment neighborhoods in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. They're very common. Shinjuku alone has more than 40 karaoke locations.
Karaoke are usually large buildings with 4~12 floors of karaoke boxes. The characters カラオケ (karaoke in katakana) are key to finding karaoke.
Karaoke are also widely available in small towns and the countryside. In some cases, countryside karaoke boxes are small cottages.
PriceKaraoke rates are generally per person per 30 minutes (or per hour). There are always different plans available including all-you-can-drink. Make sure you understand your rate before you accept a room. It's easy to run up big charges in a karaoke.
You will be asked how long you need the room. This can usually be extended. The karaoke will call you 10 minutes before your time is up to remind you.
Karaoke is cheap in the afternoons and more expensive at night. Prices also vary by location and how modern the karaoke is. Japan built a lot of karaoke boxes in the 1980s and 90s — many karaoke are showing their age. All night plans are often available after a certain time of night (e.g. a flat rate per person for midnight ~ 5 am).
The Dreaded Remote ControlKaraoke remotes are somewhat difficult to use. They have an option to display English song titles but menu buttons often remain in Japanese at all times.
Somehow most people manage to figure it out. If you understand the remote you'll be popular.
There's a phone on the wall you use to order food and drinks. Staff can help you with the remote and any problems you may have.
EchoKaraoke machines add echo to your voice. This can be turned up and down with controls on the karaoke machine itself. For whatever reason, gaijin have something of a reputation — gaijin dislike echo (generally).
PointsKaraoke machines rate your singing. Many new machines rate how many calories you burned with your song. Complex algorithms are involved. The machine is always right.
Can't Sing?Nobody can sing. Karaoke fans aren't beautiful vocalists — they're party people. Join a karaoke party even if you don't sing. It's unlikely anyone will pressure you to sing — people are usually fighting over the mic.
If someone sings badly it's impolite to cover your ears or take the mic from them. Everyone is a superstar at karaoke.