Legend has it that karaoke, literally translated as “empty orchestra”, was invented by an Ōsaka record store manager in the early 1970s. Today the mainstay of this ¥1 trillion business is the karaoke box, a building packed with comfy booths kitted out with a karaoke system. Rental of these boxes is by the hour and they have proved particularly popular with youngsters, women and families.
If you fancy flexing your vocal cords, branches of the major karaoke box operator Karaoke-kan (カラオケ館) are liberally peppered across the capital. An hour of karaoke here costs from ¥1000 with drinks and snacks extra. Catering to foreigners are Fiesta and the long-running Smash Hits, both of which offer thousands of songs in English as well as several other languages.