Archive for category Karaoke
After work I had plans with a few teachers to go for a beer at Wara Wara. Our outing started small, but as word got around more people kept showing up. Our table started to get cramped, so we asked to upgrade to a larger table. Wara Ware was already hosting a large party, so they couldn’t give us anything bigger.
Since we didn’t want to remain stacked like sardines, we relocated to Uotami, where we were joined by even more teachers and friends. I’m not sure if everyone really needed a drink, or if people were afraid of missing out: whatever the reason our small group going for a few beers had turned into an event. We eventually outgrew our table at Uotami, so the staff moved us into an available party room.
The good news is that our spacious party room contained a karaoke machine. The bad news was that the karaoke machine did not have the usual selection of English songs that we could find at our usual karaoke places. The thought of staring at an unused karaoke machine was too much for me to bear, so I started searching through the song book for anything that might have more English than Japanese.
Many of the printed songbooks for karaoke rooms show the first line of the song next to the name and artist. I scanned through the list and stopped at something that looked amazing: Sad Cows Song by Japanese ska / punk bank Shakalabbits.
The song was 98 seconds of pure awesome. With lyrics including “Let us drink to much milk hey, because we feel sorry for the cows around the world” it quickly because a highlight of our evening. Hooray for Shakalabbits!
After my short vacation in June I have been pretty reclusive, trying to save money by staying home after work as much as possible.
Tonight I went to karaoke after work for the first time in a long time. Fun was had by all and I stayed out too late (as usual).
Today I spent some time hanging out with The Penpal and some of her friends from NICE (Numazu Association for International Communications and Exchanges). We went to karaoke together in the afternoon which was memorable for two reasons: there was no drinking, and I learned how challenging it could be in Japan for someone in a wheelchair. Since these are two very different themes, I am going to make them into separate posts.
Karaoke without beer
I have lost track of how many times I have been to karaoke since coming to Japan almost two and a half years ago. Karaoke in Japan is great – there are private rooms to sing with your friends, there is a phone on the wall to order food and drinks, and alcohol is usually cheap and plentiful. I rarely touch a microphone without having at least one or two drinks. Most of the time I go to karaoke with other English teachers at the end of a late shift. Today I was out with The Penpal’s friends in the afternoon, and nobody was ordering drinks.
Don’t get me wrong – it is both possible to do karaoke without alcohol, and possible to have fun. However, when you sing sober, you become aware of how terrible your singing actually is. I am not a great singer, but this never usually stops me. Today however, I avoided a lot of my regular songs with notes that are outside of my one octave range. I also was a lot less theatrical; no dancing around or striking rockstar style microphone poses. In addition, I did not pick up the spare microphone to duet on songs that I didn’t really know well.
Overall, it was a very different experience than usual, but I still had fun and got to spend some time with The Penpal and her friends. After singing we all went out for yakiniku, which is a great way to end any day.
Today a group of people went out for beer and karaoke. I was one of them.
(2015 Update) At some point in the future, I will be asked to sum up my 3 years in Japan. If I only use the words “beer and karaoke”, I will have successfully described about 50% of my time in the country.
Tonight I went out for birthday karaoke (not mine) with Azeroth and some of his friends, most of whom are students. I didn’t think there was such a think as too much karaoke, but by the end my voice gave out and all I could do was squeak into the microphone.
Something strange happened today; something that has never happened in my 19 months in Japan so far. Something I didn’t even think was possible.
I think I did too much karaoke tonight after work.
Tonight was the next in a series of recent farewell parties. This one was for Charlie, who had recently moved to Mishima NOVA from Fuji NOVA.
Charlie had only been in Japan for about 6 months, and never really got used to life here. She was a very nice, friendly person, but she never really got used to living in Japan: she didn’t study the language, didn’t want to eat Japanese food, and didn’t always get along with other teachers. One of the factors in this was that she didn’t drink, and wasn’t all that interested in going to places where people would be drinking. Not drinking is not a problem, but if you want to spend some time with coworkers, you still have to be willing to go to izakayas or karaoke occasionally.
Not a lot of other teachers were planning on showing up at the farewell party. I had been working late Saturdays with Charlie and she specifically asked me, so I made sure to attend. The small group of people who showed up did have a pretty good time. We spent a few hours at a karaoke room that had pizza on the menu. Charlie seemed to have fun, so it was a successful farewell.
A note about the karaoke: Most karaoke machines have shortened versions of certain songs. For example, one of my staples is Copacabana by Barry Manilow. I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing. Take your time. Anyway, the original version of the song has a 2 minute long instrumental section in the middle. This may work in a live music performance, but at karaoke the singer basically has to stand around for 2 minutes while listening to a crappy midi instrumental solo. It seems like all of the English songs in this particular karaoke machine had the same issue. If I ever go back to this karaoke box, it’s going to be an all Ramones lineup.
After work, I joined yet another weekend party already in progress. Working the late shift on Saturday means that my coworkers have already had a few hour head start on the evening.
Like most parties I have been to in Japan, this one started at an izakaya. Food and drinks were ordered, interesting cocktails consumed, beers chugged, and general good times.
At some point the first party started to run out of steam. The crazy people who wanted to keep going moved along to the second party, which tonight was at a late night karaoke place (as usual). We closed out the karaoke place and got home in the wee hours of the morning.
(2015 Update) I really wish I had recorded more details about nights like this when they happened. Izakaya and then late karaoke describes far too many nights during my time in Japan.