Japan’s entertainment world is one of the world’s biggest and most technologically innovative. Despite the culture and language barrier, several forms of Japanese entertainment are immensely popular around the world today.
Bohemian Rhapsody again, anyone? You supply the voices; the karaoke machines supply the instrumentation *and* the lyrics. Karaoke bars are widespread all over Tokyo and other major cities in Japan–and virtually every U.S. city has bars with karaoke nights, so you can practice before you go (if you haven’t already). Modern karaoke bars are equipped with huge screens, a karaoke player, microphones, and audio systems.
An implant from the U.S.—the most popular amusement park in Japan is Tokyo Disney, a mere fifteen rail minutes away from the Tokyo Station. The Tokyo Disney resort is a popular destination for a lot of KCP students in their free time.
Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, and others, Japanese cinema has long influenced film worldwide. The classic example is The Magnificent Seven, a clear tribute to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Fast forward to today, and many films (like Spirited Away) are instant big hits worldwide.
Both local and international releases run at movie theatres in shopping centers, malls, and multiplexes. Western movies are usually shown with subtitles or dubbed. Tokyo also sports more than a dozen Art House cinemas.
Pachinko is a combination pinball and slot machine. The only thing in the game that the player can control is the speed at which the steel balls hit the playing surface. Most of the balls fall down and disappear, but a few find their way through holes that activate a sort of slot machine. If you end up with three similar pictures, you bring home the cash prize.
As a volcanic country, Japan has thousands of scattered natural hot springs, or onsen. Almost every region has its own onsen resort town. People often visit them with friends, family members, and colleagues. Onsen once served as public bathing places.
Japanese pop entered Japan’s musical mainstream in the 1990s. Modern J-pop owes its roots to the ’60s music of bands like the Beatles and replaced kayokyoku (lyric-signing) in the local music scene. Today, Japanese pop artists like the Southern All Stars, Mr. Children, and Ayumi Hamasaki are very popular in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
Mega-department stores are all throughout Japan. In Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza contain the biggest shopping centers. A Japanese store, or hyakkaten (百貨店), offers a wide range of services like clothing, food, foreign exchange, ticket sales, and other travel reservations. The food court and grocery are in the basement, while the rest of the building houses supplies, boutiques, pet shops, a children’s play area, and so on.
Founded in the early 17th century, Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theatre where roles are played by men. Although the play seems visually appealing, a typical performance goes on for four to five hours! Fortunately, at places like the Kabukiza Theater in Ginza, you can buy a ticket for just one act. Kabuki performances usually start in late morning. English headphone sets and guides are available for tourists.
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