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A popular pastime in Japan (and as noted later, much of Asia), karaoke is the group activity of singing popular songs into a microphone, usually while the song's music and lyrics are playing and with the original words stripped from the music. The singer is typically graded by the karaoke program (and by onlookers) for his or her ability to match the original song. The activity has spread from Japan to many other nations, and home equipment and song versions are readily available. Filipinos in particular often have karaoke boxes during parties, and their singing (or screeching, depending on the song and singer) is often audible for at least a block around.

For people who don't own the equipment or want to sing karaoke as part of a fun night out, a karaoke box is an establishment that rents private rooms with karaoke equipment on the basis of short time intervals. Food and drink can be ordered and delivered to the room. Often they are part of a karaoke bar. Many karaoke boxes offer the option of nomi-houdai which translates to "all you can drink" and is the exact opposite of "responsible drinking", as it involves you drinking as much alcohol as possible in two or three hours to make the most of your yen.

Patrons of a karaoke box need only worry about embarrassing themselves in front of their closest friends rather than in front of a bar full of strangers.

For the unfortunates who have missed the last train home (or young folks traveling on a shoestring budget), a karaoke box is an acceptable and inexpensive place to spend the night, as many are open 24 hours, charge a minimal hourly rate, are nicely sound-insulated, and have staff who keep the place safe and really don't care whether you sing, drink, or sleep.

In 2004 the Annals of Improbable Research, sponsors of the "Ig Nobel" prizes for dubious scientific achievement, awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize to Daisuke Inoue "for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other." Inoue-san actually showed up to receive his prize in person and included a rendition of "I'd like to teach the world to sing" in his acceptance speech.

Examples of Karaoke Box include:

Anime and Manga


Live Action

Video Games

  • Persona 3: A karaoke box is one of the ways to raise your courage stat.
  • In the Tokimeki Memorial series, the Karaoke Box is one of the mainstay date locations. One of the Bad Endings of Tokimeki Memorial 2 also takes place there, as the player and his two friends are venting their frustration of not getting a girlfriend after their 3 years of High School, by singing a karaoke.
  • Takeshis Challenge has a karaoke box where you have to sing an enka song well enough to do two encores, then provoke a Bar Brawl.

Web Comics

  • In El Goonish Shive, the main cast have a karaoke contest as part of Grace's birthday party. It is then revealed it was a ploy for Ellen to demonstrate the effect her Second Life dreams had on her.
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