Japanese Karaoke

Lights dim, microphone in hand, and a spotlight hits you as the music starts. No, this isn’t a rockstar’s dream, but a typical night at a Japanese karaoke bar! Karaoke holds a special place in the heart of Japanese culture. Unlike elsewhere, karaoke in Japan is a deeply ingrained social tradition that embodies the spirit of joy, camaraderie, and, sometimes, heartfelt emotion. So, in this guide, I’ve provided a comprehensive view of how karaoke works in Japan, how much it costs, and how to book it.

What is Karaoke Meaning in Japanese?

The word “karaoke” is a Japanese term that means “empty orchestra” (空オーケストラ). It combines “kara” (空), meaning empty, and “oke” (オケ), a shortened form of “okesutora” (オーケストラ), which means orchestra.

Is karaoke Japanese?

Yes, Karaoke, originated in Japan in the 1970s. It involves singing along to recorded music with lyrics displayed on a screen.

What Is Japanese Karaoke?

Japanese karaoke is a favorite pastime where people sing along to songs with on-screen lyrics, enjoyed in private “karaoke boxes” or traditional bars. Karaoke in Japanese, operates primarily through chains that manage multiple karaoke establishments nationwide. These chains run karaoke boxes and private rooms with karaoke systems, including a music player, microphones, speakers, and sometimes party lights and plush seating.

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Most Japanese karaoke venues open around 11:00 am to 3:00 am, and patrons may order food and drink using phones that connect them to the reception. Additionally, you can find traditional karaoke bars where people sing in front of crowds.

Best Karaokes in Japan

Following are the best Karaokes in Japan:

1. Big Echo

Big Echo is a well-known karaoke franchise in Japan, recognized for its 800,000+ songs in multiple languages. Big Echo has a welcoming atmosphere that caters to various musical tastes and preferences. Moreover, you can also enjoy local food and various drinks here.

2. Karaoke Kan

Karaoke Kan is known for its blue sign with big red letters. It provides a luxurious yet simple karaoke experience across its 200+ locations in Japan. Here, you can enjoy state-of-the-art karaoke systems in multiple languages, dual monitors, and first-class rooms.

3. Studio Himawari

Studio Himawari serves karaoke with owners playing live electric guitar and saxophone alongside patrons. With a basic entry fee of ¥3,000 covering karaoke, snacks, tea, and alcoholic beverages from ¥500, this ‘snack’ bar is known for its welcoming atmosphere and staying open well beyond 7 am closing time.

4. Uta Hiroba

Uta Hiroba is one of the more budget-friendly karaoke.  It costs 240 yen per hour on weekdays, with prices rising to 700 yen after 6:00 P.M., still a bargain compared to the more expensive option: Shidax.

5. Barcode

BarCode Karaoke in Kyoto, Japan, is a vibrant, internationally friendly karaoke bar known for its lively atmosphere and broad song selection that appeals to both travelers and locals. It features bar games, live music, and a welcoming environment and operates daily from late afternoon until early morning.

What are Japanese Karaoke Etiquettes?

Following are the Karaoke Japanese Etiquettes you must follow when participating in a karaoke session:

Applaud and cheer for all performers after their songs.

Request songs one at a time rather than in multiples.

Handle the microphone and karaoke equipment carefully.

Minimize constant questions to the KJ/DJ.

Refrain from attempting to skip the song queue.

Support, rather than pressure, others to sing.

Avoid booing or making negative comments.

Do not obstruct the lyrics monitor while someone is singing.

Keep laughter and heckling from interrupting others.

Only sing backup if you’re invited to do so.

Respect the lyrics; avoid intentionally messing them up.

Treat all karaoke equipment with care and do not damage it.

Respect the performer’s space; avoid the stage area during their performance.

Top 10 Most Popular Songs In Japanese Karaoke

The top 10 most popular songs in Japanese Karaoke range from modern hits to vintage anime themes and rock-infused tunes.

“Dried Flowers” by Yuri

“Cinderella Boy” by Saucy Dog

“Suiheisen” by Back Number

“Marigold” by Aimyon

“A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi

“Betelgeuse” by Yuri

“Maho no Jutan” by Takaya Kawasaki

“Zankyosanka” by Aimer

“Citrus” by Da-iCE

“Sayonara Elegy” by Masaki Suda

How much does karaoke cost in Japan?

The cost of karaoke in Japan varies widely, ranging from 100 to 400 yen per person per half-hour, depending on the time, location, and whether you’re a member of the establishment. Peak times are more expensive. Many places offer all-you-can-sing deals for longer stays, and while some offer free sessions, others may charge around ¥100 per song.

How to Book Karaoke in Japan?

To secure a karaoke box in Japan, you can walk in directly or make a reservation for guaranteed availability. Reservations can be made through the establishment’s website or via telephone, where providing a membership number might be necessary.

Pricing for karaoke sessions varies, with rates charged on a per-person, per-half-hour basis. The minimum booking is usually one hour, and purchasing at least one drink per person might be required.

How Can You Enjoy Your Karaoke Night in Japan?

If you’re looking to spice up your karaoke night in Japan, there are several games you can play to add some extra fun to the experience. One game is Sing Song Mix Up, where you sing a chosen song in the style of a different artist drawn from a bowl. Another game is Name That Song, in which one person challenges attendees to identify the song and artist based on a performance without clues.

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Moreover, you can have themed karaoke parties, such as 90s or country themes, with guests dressing accordingly. Other options include Karaoke Sing Off, Karaoke Music Quiz, or Singer Roulette. However, you must follow karaoke etiquette, refrain from queueing multiple songs, and respect other singers.


Japanese karaoke is a fun way to sing with friends and family in private rooms called “karaoke boxes.” You can choose from millions of songs, order food and drinks, and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere.

Prices vary depending on the time, location, and if you have a membership. You can walk in or book a room in advance. Additionally, try some fun games to make the most of your experience, but be mindful of karaoke etiquette.