Japan has introduced the world to some pretty unique things over the years and one of them happens to be “karaoke.” The word karaoke is a shortened version of two words “kara” meaning air/empty and “okestora” meaning orchestra. We in the western world know it as a form of entertainment where one can sing along with a recorded track of music with the lyrics typically flashed on a video screen with video images in the background.
It is purported that the karaoke machine was invented in 1971 by a Japanese musician named Daisuke Inoue. Inoue received frequent requests from guests at the venue where he played for recordings of his performances which they wanted to sing along to. He realized that there was a market potential and came up with a tape recorder-like machine that played songs for ¥100 each. He leased his machines to restaurants and hotels and what started out as a fad eventually caught on as a popular form of entertainment. Soon after, karaoke boxes became popular.
A karaoke box is a small or medium-sized room containing karaoke equipment rented by the hour or half-hour. Karaoke venues of this type are often dedicated businesses, some with multiple floors and a variety of amenities including food service.
Among the many karaoke establishments scattered around Tokyo, Big Echo is the most popular. You will find the chain scattered all over the city and catering to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. One of the elements that make Big Echo so popular is that renting a room is not too expensive, they offer an extensive list of Japanese and non-Japanese songs to choose from and there are a variety of menu/ drink items to choose from during your visit to help enhance the “party” atmosphere.
But, if you are unable to visit Japan and want to participate in karaoke, you may be able to find a karaoke club near you. Karaoke has since spread all over the world giving rise to karaoke contests where non-professional singers can showcase their talent and win prizes. In 2003, the Karaoke World Championship was established and the 2011 event took place in Killarney, Ireland!
It is estimated that the global karaoke market is worth nearly $1 billion!
Big Echo Gotanda: 1-13-10 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Web Page: http://www.clubdam.com (In Japanese)
Admission: Varies/ Lunch: ¥1,000-1,999 Dinner: ¥3,000-3,999