Guide to Karaoke in Tokyo

By Roungnak Praem | March 8th, 2021

For people of all ages, karaoke is a good stress reliever. Who doesn’t like to sing along loudly with their favorite songs be it alone or in a group? Karaoke bars in Japan are so much more than just singing. Do not worry we will mostly talk about karaoke in Tokyo but throughout Japan, the experience should be more or less the same!

This guide is part of our series on Life in Tokyo. In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about karaoke in Tokyo.

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    Karaoke in Tokyo

    Karaoke in Japan

    What is Karaoke (カラオケ)?

    As the name implies karaoke has its roots in Japan. it’s split up in kara () which means empty and ōkesutora (オーケストラ ) which stands for orchestra.  But what is karaoke now actually? To put it simply it is just entertainment but good entertainment: you sing along with your favorite song, the song of course has no vocals because you are the one that is providing it! It is just an instrumental version of the song that gets played back. For a lot of people, karaoke is a good way to destress from hectic life.

    The story goes that a Japanese drummer by the name of Daisuke Inoue was the inventor of the karaoke machine that we know today. He was asked a lot of times by his guests if it was possible to provide a recording of his music so that the clients could sing along at home or a party.

    Sunakku Bars (スナックバー)

    Sunakku is the place where karaoke originally became popular.  The term Sunakku is borrowed from the word snack in English. But what are these Sunakku bars? They are pubs that are usually run by one woman who clients call Mama. These Mamas prepare various dishes for their customers while also keeping the customers engaged through conversations and singing along karaoke with the clients. It was a big thing for salarymen and older-aged men to go there. Now it still is a place where these groups go but the popularity has decreased. Unless your Japanese is not good enough and you don’t want to sing out your heart’s content with older people we don’t recommend going to Sunakku Bars for karaoke.

    Hitokara (ヒトカラ)

    Shy people or introverts that would like to experience the karaoke culture should not be afraid of losing out. You can go to a Hitokara to still sing out your lungs at these establishments. They are just like any karaoke bar but they are for people that prefer to go alone because of multiple reasons. These Hitokara’s are not necessarily for shy people or introverts. Maybe you just enjoy going to the karaoke alone or maybe you’d like to learn and practice some new songs before hitting up the karaoke bar with your group so you don’t need to feel “ashamed”. Maybe you’d like to sing a song you like 10 times in a row without bothering your friends!

    Karaoke bars in Japan

    You should know that the bars in Tokyo or elsewhere in Japan are not the same as in the Western world. A karaoke bar in the western world is a typical bar that has a DJ that accepts song requests from the people drinking at the bar. Some of them have a stage and a mic where you can perform live. Western-styled karaoke bars do exist in Japan but they are less popular. In Japan, the most common styled karaoke bars are called karaoke boxes. These are establishments that have multiple rooms which you can hire solo or with a group of friends, they are fully equipped with karaoke equipment. Many karaoke bars also offer drinks and food. As you see these bars are not the same as in the Western world and in this article, I will explain to you the workings of how a karaoke bar works in Japan 


    Want to know more about life in Tokyo? Also check out on BFF Tokyo: Check out our guides for tips in Japan


     

    Karaoke in tokyo

    How does Karaoke in Japan Work?

    Becoming a member

    A lot of the Karaoke bars require you to become a member before you can rent a room. Sometimes signing up and becoming a member is free and other times it costs money. It is not a lot of money and averages around ¥300. Luckily when you do become a member you can get huge discounts!

    Prices

    The prices are not the same everywhere of course some karaoke bars have different prices. Big chains with various locations even have different prices. Weekdays before evening are times where prices are the cheapest, evenings, weekends, public holidays, and the day before a public holiday is when the prices are the highest.

    Renting a room

    Renting a karaoke room is quite easy, you enter the establishment and the first thing you will see is usually the reception where someone will happily greet you. They will ask you some questions like how many people are you renting a room for and how long you would like to rent the room for. Most of the time they will also ask you to register and become a member. Do note though that rooms are rented in time slots of 30 minutes and that at most places they will send you a warning 10 minutes (usually by calling the phone in the room) notifying you that your time is almost up. You are welcome to ask to extend your time provided that no one has booked the room after you. When you go over your time slots you will have to pay a higher fee.

    Drinks

    A lot of the establishments offer drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and most of the time there will be an extra charge (about ¥500 ) and you can have an all-you-can-drink deal for soft drinks. They also have a more expensive alcohol all-you-can-drink deal which is usually around ¥1,000 - ¥1,500. Be sure to take these deals when booking a room as taking the deal afterward may increase the price. The karaoke bars are mostly self-serve so there will be a corner somewhere that you can get your drinks from. Alcohol is mostly not self-serve and these will need to be ordered with the staff.

    Food

    These karaoke bars also offer a variety of foods! Most of the time these are just finger-foods like Karaage ((唐揚げ) or French fries but more expensive bars even offer full meals. When entering your room look for a menu and see what they have to offer, there will be a phone most of the time near your door which you can call the staff at the reception and place your order. It is that simple you call and order the food, and wait and sing your lungs out till they bring you your food.

    It might be tempting to bring your own food and drinks but do not do this. Getting caught will be penalized with a heavy fine!

    Free time

    No, no, we do not mean your free time! Karaoke bars in Japan have this special deal called “free time”. This deal is only available when there are plenty of rooms free. It is usually during the weekdays or after midnight when it is much quieter. Free time means you can stay as long as you would like for a fixed rate. You can stay there for five minutes or up to three hours. It does not matter how long you stay, the price stays the same!


    Want to know more about life in Tokyo? Also check out on BFF Tokyo: Check out our guides for tips in Japan


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    Life in Tokyo

    Popular Karaoke Bars

    You have gone through this article, and now you are looking forward to going to a karaoke bar yourself or with your friends, but where can you go?

    We will list some great spots for you to experience the karaoke in Tokyo. 

    Karaoke Kan

    One of the most famous karaoke chains in Tokyo. There is a Karaoke Kan near every major station in Tokyo. You will recognize the establishment easily by its blue neon lights and its red neon lights. The staff also wear sailor costumes for their uniform.  It is not only one of the most famous karaoke chains but also one of the cheaper ones available for what they offer.

    Famous Place(s)

    Karaoke Kan Shibuya:

    How can I not list this as one of the most popular places? The movie Lost In Translation was filmed here! If that does not make you want to go there and sing, then what does? The rooms where the movies were shot are room number 601 and 602.

     150-0042 東京都渋谷区宇田川町25−6

     Karaoke Kan Roppongi

    The establishment in Roppongi is very popular among tourists because it is Roppongi after all, the place where most of the tourists go for a night out. Because of this, the staff here knows a little more English. Making it a lot easier if it is your first time doing karaoke in Japan as they could explain to you how the system works.

    106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 5 Chome−1−6 六本木B&V

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    09:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.
    ¥80 with one drink order required.

    Saturday and Sunday
    09:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.
    ¥225 with one drink order required

    Monday to Friday
    19:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m.
    ¥475 with one drink order required.

     Saturday to Sunday
    19:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m.
    ¥680 with one drink order required.

    Free time

    Monday to Friday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,225 with one drink order required. 

    Monday to Thursday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,375 with one drink order required.

    Friday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,850 with food order required. 

    Sunday to Thursday
    23:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥2,250 with one drink order required.

    Friday and Saturday
    23:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥2,475 with food order required.

    Food and drinks

    Karaoke Kan also offers food you can order. These are mostly fried dishes or finger foods. Most of the food items cost around ¥400.

    Karaoke Kan has all types of drinks. The costs of these drinks are around ¥500 each. They do have an all-you-can-drink deal for around ¥1,500. Our advice is to take it when you are 100% sure you are going to drink more than three drinks.

    Want to know more about their food and drink menu? Check it out here.

    English songs

    They offer English songs. You will not have problems finding modern, popular and classic songs.

    Useful tip

    Karaoke Kan gives a  25% discount to their members.  Signing up for their membership is free. All you need to do is bring some identification.

    Uta Hiroba (歌広場)

    Uta Hiroba is also a very popular karaoke chain in Tokyo it is also known as “Jankara” in the Kansai region. It is very popular among the youth because their prices are cheap and the all-you-can-drink option is always included in the price. They are easily recognizable through their logo, which is a circle-sized face with two big eyes and two yellow hands, that is holding a microphone in one of his hands.

    Beware though their rooms are very tiny and they use old karaoke equipment.

    Famous Place(s)

    Uta Hiroba Shinjuku

    Shinjuku is very famous for its nightlife in general, going to Uta Hiroba in Shinjuku has its perks since there are many places to enjoy meals and drinks until the morning. You can enjoy the karaoke in Tokyo to the fullest in Shinjuku.

    〒151-0053 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Yoyogi, 2 Chome−8−6 新宿駅前サウスビル 7階

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    11:00 a.m. – 18:00 p.m.
    ¥125  to ¥200

    Monday to Friday
    18:00 p.m. – 06:00 a.m.
    ¥350 to ¥800 including all-you-can-drink soda.
    ¥670 to ¥950 including all-you-can-drink alcohol.

    Free time

    Sundays to Thursdays
    11:00 a.m. to 20:00 p.m.
    ¥1,180 with soft drink all-you-can-drink option.
    ¥2,680 with alcohol all-you-can-drink option.

    Friday and Saturday
    11:00 a.m. to 20:00 p.m.
    ¥1,480 with soft drink all-you-can-drink option.
    ¥2,980 with alcohol all-you-can-drink option.

    Sunday to Thursday 
    23:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m.
    ¥1,180 with soft drink all-you-can-drink option.
    ¥2,680 with alcohol all-you-can-drink option.

    Friday and Saturday
    23:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m.
    ¥2,180 with soft drink all-you-can-drink option.
    ¥3,280 with alcohol all-you-can-drink option.

    You can check the exact prices from each location here.

    Food and drinks

    They have all kinds of drinks available, cocktails, tequila, and beers. These items are around ¥500 each. They offer a lot of food dishes. Finger foods like fried chicken, pizza, and pasta. They even offer Ramen and sweets! The food dishes are priced fair with a price range from ¥290 to ¥390.

    Want to know more about their food and drink menu. Click here for their assortment.

    English songs

    They are one of the major chains in Japan so their offer of songs in English is large.

    Useful tip

    If you book a reservation online on their website you get a 10% discount on your room!

    Karaoke no Tetsujin (カラオケの鉄人)

    Karaoke no Tetsujin (meaning Karaoke Ironman) also called “karatestu” is a very popular chain in Tokyo, catering mostly to a younger demographic.

    Famous Place(s)

    Karaoke no Tetsujin Shimokitazawa

    To enjoy karaoke in Tokyo to the fullest as a younger person I would recommend going to Shimokitazawa! The cool kids hang around here now so you will fit right in and a lot of the bars and stores also cater to this group!

    2-15-16 Kitazawa, Setagaya 155-0031 Tokyo Prefecture

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    09:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.
    ¥80 with one drink order required.

    Saturday and Sunday
    09:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.
    ¥225 with one drink order required

    Monday to Friday
    19:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m.
    ¥
    475 with one drink order required. 

    Saturday to Sunday
    19:00 p.m. to 09:00 a.m.
    ¥680 with one drink order required.

    Free time

    Monday to Friday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,225 with one drink order required.

    Monday to Thursday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,375 with one drink order required.

    Friday
    16:00 p.m. to 23:00 p.m.
    ¥1,850 with food order required

    Sunday to Thursday
    23:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥2,250 with one drink order required.

    Friday and Saturday
    23:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥2,475 with food order required.

    Click here to find out the exact prices of each location.

    Foods and drinks

    The cool thing about Karatestu is that they do a lot of collaborations with various anime and games. They offer limited-time themed foods and drinks based on the universe of said game or anime.

    For more information on their menus, you can take a look at their food and drink menu.

    English songs

    Karatestu is also known for its large library of not only English songs but also for Chinese and Korean songs.

    Useful tip

    I would recommend checking out their website. They offer coupon codes that you can use in-store for a discount!

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    1Kara

    For the people that want to try Karaoke but do not want to do this in a group, there is 1Kara! You rent a small room that is just big enough for one person. 1Kara is designed as a spaceship and their rooms are called PIT from the cockpit. 1Kara offers another perspective on karaoke in Tokyo.

    Famous Place(s)

    1Kara Akihabara for a great time doing karaoke on your own I would recommend going to the Akihabara location afterward you can still do tons of stuff alone like playing games or go shopping for items.

    101-0044東京都千代田区鍛冶町2-2-9  5F

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    09:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.
    ¥200 

    Weekend
    09:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.
    ¥300 

    Monday to Friday
    17:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m.
    ¥300

    Weekend
    17:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m.
    ¥400 

    Free time

    Monday to Friday
    21:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥1,680

    Weekend
    21:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥1,880

    For more exact prices on each location, you can click here.

    Food and drink

    All plans include access to the all-you-can-drink bar. They offer some light meals like fried foods and desserts.

    English songs

    1Kara has a big library for English songs and you will find most of the popular songs at these chains.

    Useful tip(s)

    1kara is a membership only, you can only book when you are a member of 1Kara which costs ¥300.

    Pasela (カラオケパセラ)

    Pasela Resorts is one of the more luxurious karaoke chains in Tokyo. It is not your typical Karaoke bar and their rooms are themed like a resort. It is very big, spacy and luxurious, Pasela is good for large groups and parties. They are also known for their honey toast which is an item you must order if you are singing at Pasela!

    Famous place(s)

    Pasela Resorts Akiba Multi Entertainment is one of the more popular ones among the “geeks” because this location has a lot of anime-themed rooms. There is even a Final Fantasy-themed café located there!

    101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−1−10 パセラAKIBAマルチエンターテインメント1F

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    11:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.
    ¥232

    Saturday and Sunday
    11:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m.
    ¥278

    Monday to Friday 
    18:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m. 
    ¥417

    Friday and Saturday
    18:00 p.m. to 05:00 a.m.
    ¥463

    Free time:

    Monday to Friday
    15:00 p.m. to 00:00 a.m.
    ¥2.593

    For exact prices for each location, you can click here.

    Foods and drinks

    Pasela is well known for the varieties of foods that they offer. As I mentioned before they have “Honey Toast” which is a half loaf of bread with honey and all kinds of toppings which cost around ¥800. Pasela also has tapas which you can order from. All items on this menu cost ¥463. If you are with a large group and want to share they also have this covered, they have a “Meaty course” which contains an assortment of various meats, salads, and a rice dish for the price of ¥4,000.

    Pasela offers a huge drinks menu, drinks are around ¥500 each.  One of the more popular drinks at Pasela is their fruit cocktails with pieces of fruit in the cocktail, these cost around ¥630. They offer an all-you-can-drink package with costs ¥1,500.

    To find more about their food and drink menu click here.

    English songs

    Pasela offers a lot of English songs. Do not worry all the songs you like are probably available when singing in Pasela.

     

    Useful tip   

    Pasela is a great experience when having a large group, we recommend going here when you would like to party hard with a large group. 

    Big Echo

    Big Echo is quite literally the biggest Karaoke chain in Japan. It is easily recognized by its logo in red and white letters saying “BIG ECHO”, Big Echo is catered more towards an older audience, it has more food items on its menu. You also have ビッグエコー which is also Big Echo but it is catered more towards a younger audience, these have more drinks on their menu.

    Famous Place(s)

    Big Echo Shibuya is a famous location because it is so close to the Hachiko statue. A lot of people meet up here cause it is easier to find each other.

    150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 23−5 ハイマンテン渋谷ビル 8F

    Prices for 30 minutes

    Monday to Friday
    Before 19:00 p.m.

    ¥213 with a one-drink order required.

    Saturday and Sunday
    Before 19:00 p.m.
    ¥346
    with a one-drink order required.

    Monday to Thursday 
    After 19:00 p.m.
    ¥546 with a one-drink order required.

    Saturday to Sunday
    After 19:00 p.m.
    ¥653 with a one-drink order required.

    Free time

    Monday to Thursday
    Before 19:00 p.m.
    ¥1,491 with a one drinker order required

    Monday to Thursday
    After 23:00 p.m.
    ¥2,184 with one drink order required

    Friday to Sunday
    After 23:00 p.m.
    ¥3,213 with a one-drink order required.

    You can check the exact prices from each location here.

    Foods and Drinks

    Big Echo offers a lot more food on their menus. They offer different kinds of menus like a grand menu A which is a type that is more focused on alcoholic drinks and snacks, Grand menu B that offers all kinds of foods and they have a party course that is ¥2,000 per person and it even includes three hours of karaoke time!

    If you want to know more about the menus you can check them out here.

    Songs

    Being the largest Karaoke chain in Japan has its perks, you will find plenty of English

    Useful tip

    Go on their website for discount codes they offer these a lot of the time.

    Click here for a coupon that you can use!

    Final Thoughts on Karaoke in Tokyo

    Karaoke in Tokyo is fun and great, it is a shared activity that can give you a nice experience with your friends and coworkers. Look at it like a great team-building moment when you are new you can learn more about your coworkers. Going to karaoke with a group is not about being the best singer it is about having a fun time with the others around you. 

    Do not forget to bring along your ID to sign up for a membership, take the all-you-can-drink deal, have a list of what songs you would to sing. This saves you time and money since you do not have to waste time thinking about a song. Now go and have fun go experience the karaoke in Tokyo with your friends or alone!

    If you have any other questions be sure to check out our other series on Life in Tokyo

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