It just so happened that our really good friends from back home were on their very first trip to Japan while we were on ours, and our schedules aligned in Tokyo. We decided to meet up for an evening out in Shibuya to introduce them to karaoke and proper Japanese tonkatsu. This meant I’d have to get my workday done during “normal” business hours so I’d be free for the evening.
Episode 7: https://youtu.be/Uks8tru3Q7E
Before we discuss karaoke I just wanted to call out that if you’ve ever been curious about onigiri this would be a good episode to watch. In it we visit a chain specializing in onigiri which are several steps above the quick version you’d find in a convenience store. They are bigger and have much better topping and filling choices. If you’re completely new to onigiri and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a tease. They are basically nori wrapped rice balls. Check out the video for the full lowdown.
I remember the first time Nicole and I went to karaoke many trips ago. We were so timid about it, not sure what to expect. In the West I generally associate karaoke with a bar setting where you’d get up in front of a bunch of strangers and sing likely making a fool out of yourself. I was happy when Nicole and I were ushered to our own private room. In the room was a large TV on the wall, wireless microphones and an iPad like device where you could browse the song collection and queue up songs to sing. The setup was amazing, and we’ve always found a huge selection of English songs to choose from. On that first outing we only went in for 30 minutes but were happy when the phone rang around the 30 minute mark and we were able to extend our time. We did that several times spending a few hours in their singing until our throats were sore. And because it was an off peak time, in the afternoon, it was super cheap!
Ever since that trip Nicole and I have generally done karaoke at least once during our visits to Japan. But we’ve never really had the full experience. Besides singing a night away you can also order food and drinks to your private room. We’ve always never really bothered, but on this night our with friends we went for the full experience!
It was a real blast, sitting in our darkened room, enjoying a Highball, nibbling on some snacks while signing predominantly 80s tunes. I think all involved will remember that night for a long time.
If you’re in Japan and looking for something to do on a rainy day give karaoke a try and experience something uniquely Japanese.
There were several locations featured in this episode
- Starbucks – Our neighbourhood Starbucks with a great seating area on the second floor with a view down over the intersection.
- ほんのり屋 池袋東口店 (onigiri shop) – An onigiri take-out shop we first found in Tokyo Station on a previous trip. They have a great selection of toppings and fillings and are generally many levels above the onigiri you’ll find in a konbini.
- Hachikō Statue – The famous statue of a dog you’ll find outside Shibuya Station right beside the equally famous scramble crossing. This is often a meeting spot for friends to start off their evening out in Shibuya.
- Big Echo Karaoke – Ubiquitous karaoke chain in Japan easily accessible to foreign tourists. Great English song options and English modes for their machines. It’s a safe bet for karaoke!
- Maisen – My favourite chain for tonkatsu. They have several locations around Japan and also do bento boxes you can often find in train stations.
Thanks for watching/reading!