December 8, 2007 – Every time I return to Japan, I have a place that comes on the very top in the list of “to-go” – even upper than my grandparents’ house or the restaurant I worked for more than 2 years: it is a karaoke bar. I call my friends and tell them we have to go to a karaoke bar. They answer the phone as if they have expected it, since it has now almost become annual.
I believe in karaoke – just like all other Japanese – and singing. This is what I strongly miss when I am in foreign countries. Singing out loud with the good background music is priceless. And karaoke bar is the perfect place to do this.
Even in a modest-size town like mine, with a population of about 130,000, there are more than a hundred karaoke bars. The prices are all similar: $5 to15 an hour.
When I say a karaoke bar, I actually mean a karaoke box, which is a room – from a size of bed room to one like a motel room – we rent for an hour to sometimes 5 hours or more. Since we usually rent these boxes with close friends, in a karaoke box, we can sing as loud as possible and don’t have to worry about strangers listening to us.
My friends and I usually rent a room of the smallest. The room has a karaoke machine with a TV screen and speakers. The machine is updated daily and has the latest songs at all time along with millions of others. Once we get in the room, you should be quick; otherwise the play lists will pile up and you’ll have to wait long for your turn. Who actually listens to other people’s singing? Nobody does, unless they hear really good singing, which happens once in every once in a while. Each of my friends sings in self-satisfaction and hands the microphone to the next. When my turn finally comes, I become the one who sings from the top of my lungs in a horrible tone and melody. But you know what? It feels so good to sing out loud.
All humans like to sing. I think it is one way to express our feelings. We can choose songs – ballad, hard-rock, or any others – to show or ensure our happiness, sadness, anger, or dilemma. But some of us are shy. We know it’s a great feeling to sing, but too much if strange eyes are focused on us. I think here is the point that the karaoke bar – or box – gives us a space where I can just be with my friends and sing, NEVER worrying about if they care about my singing (except if we go as a group of some men and women to hook up).
It is a great feeling to sing into the microphone out loud, and you’ll get addicted once you feel that. Oh, I wish I have karaoke bar in America.
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