Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective


In only 20 years, karaoke (“empty orchesta”) has become synonymous with modern Japan.

As the legend goes, it was born in Kobe, when a canny restauranteur encouraged customers to sing over a backing tape when his act didn’t show up. This is probably rubbish though.

Japan’s karaoke culture’s way ahead of the West – welcome to private, sound-proofed booths, open 24-hours a day with waiter service and cheap all-you-can-drink deals. In any other country, it would get very messy…

These luxury boxes are a favourite shennanigan location for randy Japanese teens not brave or rich enough to get a room in a love hotel.

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