A Guide to Karaoke in Japan featuring the Most Popular Chains

When you think of  karaoke, maybe you picture a single spotlight on a stage, groups of friends gathered on barstools trying to convince some unlucky member to go up and sing their heart out in front of a bar full of strangers. In places like the US, karaoke is a public affair, in which it’s almost guaranteed someone will sing a Journey song (and at least one person will be wearing a cowboy hat). But karaoke in Japan is an entirely different thing.

Karaoke is all about creating an intimate atmosphere with friends, family or co-workers, and enjoying music alongside food and drink. (And for some people, karaoke is done completely alone). When you come to karaoke in Japan, you rent a private room for a set amount of hours, often with some sort of soft drink or alcohol all you can drink bar. These kinds of facilities, popular across Asia, are referred to as ‘boxes,’ or KTVs.

Table of Contents

Renting and Using Karaoke: the Basics

  • Decide Rental Time, Number in Party
  • Complete Registration
  • Select Drink Plan and Room

When you first enter karaoke, there will be a reception desk where you will be asked the number of people in your party and the amount of time you will be renting your box. One thing to keep in mind, is that by opting for the Free Time option which offers unlimited time (in many cases this plan comes with the unlimited soft drink bar as a free add on too) you  get great value compared to renting by the individual half hour and extending your time.  After making your basic selection, you will be asked to make a members card. Registration requires a valid phone number for contact and an address in Japan. (Many places will not be very strict with the address being your permanent address.) Even if it is optional, make sure to register in order to get the discounted rates.

Photo Credit: https://jmty.jp/saitama/sale-oth/article-258rn

From there, you’ll select your room. There are variety of designs and karaoke machines. The front staff will help you figure out which machine in best based on factors such as the selection of Western songs or the current top pop hits. Finally, an essential for staying hydrated as you belt out your favorite tunes with friends is the selection of the drink plan. Most places will offer ‘drink bar,’ which includes unlimited drinks for the entirety of your rental, and will require a minimum one-drink order. Non-alcohol and alcohol options are both available, though you will have make a call to the front staff to order alcohol.

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After being shown to your room, you’ll find your basic karaoke setup: a large TV monitor where the lyrics for your song will be displayed over background music videos. (Get ready for 90s fashion and charmingly awkward situations)

karaoke in Japan
Photo Credit: https://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ001027709/

There will be 2 or more microphones in every room, and at least one tablet-sized remote control panel for adding songs to your lineup and ordering food and drink.

Photo Credit: https://shop.r10s.jp/19box/cabinet/2013-11/tm10.jpg

Rooms also come with accompanying musical instruments such as maracas or tambourines for jamming alongside the music. Multicolored lights with dimmers are there to set the mood, and each room has a telephone anchored to the wall for contacting the front staff.

For visitors who don’t speak Japanese, karaoke always has plenty of English language songs. You just might need to change your display language before you get started. As shown in the photo above, the remote is pretty user friendly and usually includes pictures for guidance, but in case the language button isn’t available in English, look for and select the following characters: 言語 (gengo)

Popular Commercial Karaoke Chains

So now you know how to karaoke, but let’s take a moment to talk about where to go. We gathered the top commercial karaoke chains to offer you a service and price comparison based central locations.

Karaoke-kan

Photo Credit: http://shop.jiyugaoka.net/karaokekan

Easily recognizable for its bright blue lights and red lettering, Karaoke-kan is one of the most popular and ubiquitous karaoke chains in the Tokyo area and the surrounding regions. With some chains offering customers the option of singing while cos-playing, the chain is especially popular for high school and college students. The chain’s concept is ‘simple luxury’ which manifests in the bright design of the foyer and the chic selection of rooms. Check out the weekday day rates for affordable prices across locations.

Karaoke-kan Rates (Shibuya location, for registered members)

Weekday

Weekend

30 Min. Rate

Mon-Fri 11:00-18:00

190円

30 Min. Rate

Sat-Sunday, National Holidays 11:00-18:00

280円

30 Min. Rate

Mon-Thu 18:00-05:00

462円

30 Min. Rate

Fri-Sunday, National Holidays 18:00-05:00

572円

Free Time

Mon-Fri 23:00~5:00

1,200円

Free Time  23:00~5:00

Sun-Thursday, National Holiday

Friday-Saturday, the day before a National Holiday

1,639円

2,739

Offficial Site: http://karaokekan.jp/index.html

Big Echo 

Photo Credit: https://page.line.me/pti7037o

Big Echo has a number of brands under its larger parent company. Within the brand itself, the romanized Version (Big Echo) and the katakana version (ビッグエコー) offer different levels of service, with Big Echo targeting a more mature audience with its step-above options in food and drink. An interesting feature of the Big Echo brand is its ever-changing line-up of collaborations. For example, with the recent release of the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, 3 locations across the country opened special rooms redesigned with photos of Queen from their tours in Japan. And customers can enjoy 5 specially remastered Queen songs complete with live concert footage at all locations. Specialty rooms will be available until February 28th. For those in Tokyo, head over to or call the Ginza location to reserve the room.

Big Echo Rates (Shibuya eki-mae location, for registered members)

Weekday

Weekend

30 Min. Rate

Mon-Friday, the day before a National Holiday

8:00-18:00

190円

30 Min. Rate

Saturday-Sunday, National Holiday

8:00-18:00

280円

30 Min.  Rate

18:00-8:00

440円

30 Min. Rate

Friday-Sunday, the day before a National Holiday, National Holiday

18:00-8:00

540円

Free Time (3-Hour Plan)

Mon-Friday, the day before a National Holiday

8:00-21:00

1,250円

Free Time (3-Hour Plan)

Saturday-Sunday, National Holiday

8:00-21:00

2,000円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Mon-Friday, the day before a National Holiday

8:00-19:00

1,520円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Friday-Sunday, the day before a National Holiday, National Holiday

8:00-19:00

1,900円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Mon-Thursday

18:00-5:00

1,200円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Friday-Sunday, the day before a National Holiday

18:00-5:00

1,900円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Thursday-Sunday, National Holiday

23:00-5:00

1,200円

Free Time (Unlimited)

Friday-Saturday, the day before a National Holiday

23:00-5:00

1,900円

Official English Site: https://big-echo.jp/welcome-big-echo/

Karaoke No Tetsujin (Shibuya Center Gai Location Rates)

Photo Credit: https://matome.naver.jp/odai/2142346214049526801/2142352949604490403

For those with a love of the alternative. from Visual Kei, to anime, Karaoke no Tetsujin might be the best place for you to get singing. This chain is known for its enormous catalog that pulls from several different karaoke makers, and the surprising breadth of genre that includes K-POP and the heavily synthesized Vocaloid. Come here to geek out, and if it tickles your fancy, try the free cosplay.

Karaoke No Tetsujin Rates (Shibuya Center Gai Location, for registered members)

Weekday

Weekend

30 Min. Rate

Mon-Friday

OPEN~18:00

180円

30 Min. Rate

Weekends and National Holiday

OPEN~18:00

250円

30 Min.  Rate

Mon-Thursday

18:00-6:00

440円

30 Min. Rate

Friday-Sunday, the day before a National Holiday, National Holiday

18:00-6:00

540円

Free Time

Mon-Friday

OPEN~18:00

1,200円

Free Time

Weekends and National Holiday

OPEN~18:00

1,880円

Free Time

Thursday-Sunday 

22:00~5:00

1,580円

Free Time

Friday-Saturday, the day before a National Holiday

22:00~5:00

2,480円

Official Site: https://www.karatetsu.com/

まねきねこ(Manekineko)

Photo Credit: X (manekineko official)

If we’re talking about the cheapest KTV in town, you can’t miss Manekineko. It’s one of those karaoke chains scattered all over Japan, with more than 500 beckoning cat-themed joints in various cities. What they’re known for? Wallet-friendly prices and an extensive song list. Besides ordering delicious bites and drinks in-store, it’s one of the rare joints where you can bring your own snacks to the karaoke party.

By the way, their snacks are surprisingly tasty!

Manekineko Rates (Shinjuku Kabukicho Location, for registered members)

Mon-Thu, DAY time of Friday and the day before a national holidayNight time of Friday and the day before a national holiday, Weekends and National Holiday

30 Min. Rate

11:00-18:00

190円

30 Min. Rate

11:00-18:00

230円

30 Min. Rate

18:00-7:00

420円

30 Min. Rate

18:00-7:00

475円

Free Time

11:00-19:00

1,390円

Free Time

11:00-19:00

1,690円

Free Time

Monday-Thursday  

18:00-5:00

1,800円

Free Time

23:00-6:00

2,490円

Free Time

Monday-Thursday  

23:00-5:00

1,490円

Free Time

(next day)3:00-12:00

2,490円

Official Site: https://www.karaokemanekineko.jp/

Jankara (Osaka, Dotonbori Branch)

Photo Credit: https://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ001127876/

Of our suggestions, this is the only one that you won’t find in Tokyo. The beloved Osaka Jankara. Jankara has incredibly flexible Free Time plans, with three time windows to help you save money. Weeknight free time is also a steal, as you can get in as early as 19:00. Of all their collaborations, we found their VR experience to be the most unique. Offering 5 feature videos, let the VR experience take you under the seas of Okinawa or to the heights of a speeding roller coaster. This is just one of the many collaborations and quirky rooms you can reserve at Jankara.

Jankara Rates (Osaka, Dotonbori Location, for registered members)

Weekday

Weekend

30 Min. Rate

8:00-10:00

90円

30 Min. Rate

9:00-19:00

125円

30 Min.  Rate

10:00-19:00

180円

30 Min. Rate

10:00-19:00

250円

30 Min.  Rate

19:00-8:00

390円

30 Min.  Rate

19:00-8:00

490円

Morning Free Time

6:00-11:00

1,080円

Morning Free Time

6:00-11:00

1,500円

Day-Time Free Time

10:00-19:00

790円

Day-Time Free Time

10:00-19:00

1,600円

Afternoon Free Time

15:00-21:00

1,320円

Afternoon Free Time

15:00-21:00

1,820円

Evening Free Time 

19:00-6:00

1,400円

Evening Free Time

19:00-6:00

2,280円

Official English Site: https://jankara.ne.jp/en/

Happy Singing, Everyone! 

What’s More: Tokyo SKYTREE: Explore Tokyo’s Landmark

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