Hello Japan! January mini-challenge: Something New

Hello Japan! mini-challenge

On Tanabata’s book blog, In Spring it is the Dawn, she challenges her readers every month to do something Japanese. Each mini-challenge has guidelines and January’s was “try something Japanese that you haven’t tried before”, which I did. And it was most certainly an experience.

For my birthday earlier this month I booked a karaoke booth at a local Japanese restaurant. I love Japanese food, I love karaoke, as do several of my friends – what could possibly go wrong? The only real question was why I had never done this before.

There were some setbacks. A few karaoke-friendly friends couldn’t make it so I ended up with a group heavy on the “I’ll come but I probably won’t sing” side. On arrival, as we squeezed ourselves into a tiny room that could only possibly have seated the advertised occupancy of 20 if they were all model-thin, was boiling hot and had the music volume so loud we couldn’t hear each other across the table, I began to worry this wouldn’t be all it was cracked up to be. The hostess didn’t explain the computer properly and we appeared to have a songlist composed solely of Madonna, Britney, Mariah and Japanese acts we’d never heard of.

Thankfully, while I knocked back my first flask of warm sake and caught up with my friends over the as-always immensely tasty food there, some of my more computer-savvy friends worked out not only how to adjust the volume to an acceptable level but also that there was a huge long list of songs to choose from hidden in a sub-sub-menu. And we were off!

And it was a brilliant night. Sure the computer crashed a few times, wiping our carefully crafted playlist. We suspected that the karaoke tracks and videos were largely cheap knock-offs, with hilariously wrong lyrics and videos either from some tourist agency or a sort-of Japanese Pop Idol show. But everyone had a good time, everyone sang (sometimes all at once with harmonies and everything) and I laughed so much I cried.

I loved that we had to take our shoes off and that we sat at a table at floor level, something I’d only seen in films before. I loved that the most resistant of my friends let inhibitions go and belted out tunes wholeheartedly. If they had let us we could have carried on all through the night and they would have made a fortune out of our sake and Asahi consumption, but sadly they closed at 10.30pm.

It was a great way to spend an evening with friends and I shall definitely accept any opportunity to try it again.

(By the way, this is my 100th post! Very exciting. I was hoping to post about my newly redecorated library on this auspicious occasion but progress has slowed on that front, mostly because I’ve been too exhausted to help Tim out with the legwork. We will finish it…one day.)

9 thoughts on “Hello Japan! January mini-challenge: Something New

  1. Uniflame January 31, 2011 at 9:07 am

    You have a Japanese karaoke restaurant in the UK?! I am sooo jealous! I wonder if they would have that in the Netherlands too. Never came across one though. I am glad you enjoyed yourself! It sounds awesome 🙂 I surely would have sang Japanese songs since I know a fair share, so I have to start a search! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Leeswammes (Judith) January 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Congratulations on your 100th post.

    Oh what a great birthday celebrations. This sounds like it was a lot of fun and I love the way you wrote about it.

  3. Lloyd January 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Belated Happy Birthday, Kate.
    Glad you enjoyed the Karaoke. Did you go to Obento?
    When we lived in Korea we would seem to end up in a “Singing Room” (Noraebang) every other weekend. They are great fun. We went in one once where they record the session and you can buy a CD of it as you leave!! Not pleasant. But if they’re going to be open 24 hours and serve beer I suppose they deserve having to hear me murdering “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”!

  4. litera January 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I haven’t try karaoke yet, but I think – after reading your post – it could be a great fun.

    And Happy Birthday! Although we don’t know each other;)

  5. Nose in a book January 31, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Uniflame I think they’re slowly popping up all over the place. Must be the “in” thing!

    Judith Thank you! It was great fun.

    Lloyd Ahem, I was carefully not naming the place because I had a few criticisms but I don’t want to stop anyone from going there! I’d love an all-night version!

    litera I really do recommend it. I’m a big fan of Singstar too, which has the added fun of scoring points!

  6. tanabata February 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Congratulations on your 100th post, and Happy belated birthday! What a fun way to celebrate! I love that despite the bumpy start you ended up having a fabulous time. And thanks for sharing your new adventure with us. 🙂

  7. Hayley February 1, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    YAY! Congratulations on your 100th post.
    I still haven’t been anywhere besides my front room to do karaoke, I must do that soon.

  8. Nose in a book February 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    tanabata Thank you!

    Hayley I spent ages trying to find somewhere in Bristol where I felt comfortable doing karaoke and this was the first success (excepting our front room and those of any friends who also have Singstar, of course!).

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