Karaoke (カラオケ) is one of Japan’s best loved entertainment forms. A trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without hopping into a karaoke bar. Of course you know, in karaoke, people sing along to recorded music via a microphone and an amplifying system. Lyrics display along a screen for reference, with a moving icon or color changes to guide the singer. In  many countries, Karaoke is also known as KTV.

Karaoke bars are all over Japan. Modern karaoke shops typicallyoffer private rooms equipped with screens, karaoke players, and microphones. Karaoke bars also offer refreshments, food, and alcoholic drinks.

Where did karaoke come from?

While a lot of people believe that it all began in Kobe, the origins of karaoke remain obscure. One myth claims that it all began with a bar owner who played music tapes and asked people to sign when a performer failed to appear. From these homely beginnings, karaoke fever has taken hold, not only in Japan, but all around the globe.

Karaoke technology

A karaoke machine consists of microphone inputs, an audio output, a music player, and a means of changing music pitch. Most karaoke machines are made up of VCD, CD+G, DVD, or Laser Disc players with built-in audio mixers and microphone inputs.

Many karaoke machines use technology that changes music pitch so that amateur singers can choose a key fit for them, while maintaining the song’s tempo. With the help of a remote control device, a person chooses a song title, and a video clip plays the instrumental version of the song. Modern karaoke machines store their songs digitally, giving customers virtually thousands of songs to choose from.

Modern karaoke

Today, karaoke is Japan’s fourth most popular entertainment form just behind cinema, restaurants, and bars. There are currently more than 100,000 karaoke bars in the country. Karaoke appeals to all ages. It is a great way to relax with friends and a fun icebreaker for a new group. It is never too late for you to become a pop idol even for just a night.


Related posts from KCP Window on Japan:

The Karaoke Craze

Experience Tokyo’s Vibrant Nightlife