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Karaoke Bar: The History Behind This Amazing Pastime!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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April 27, 2024
A bunch of friends singing at a colorful karaoke bar.

Karaoke is a popular and convenient form of entertainment enjoyed by people of all ages worldwide. In Japan, many people go to a karaoke bar as their top destination after dinner. So, where does karaoke come from? Let’s dive deeper into its origins and check out some places you must try in Japan!

Who invented karaoke?

In the 1960s, people in Japan wanted to sing along to songs without a live band. Thus, Shigeichi Negishi, an electronics genius, created the first karaoke machine in 1967. He named it the “Sparko Box” and put fun music on cassette tapes inside. Even though Negishi’s invention was great, only a few people bought it.

Then, in 1971, a musician named Daisuke Inoue from Kobe stepped into the spotlight. He noticed how tough it was for regular people to sing pop songs, so he invented his machine. Inoue’s machine wasn’t just about music. He made sure the music matched the singers and added a little echo to make the singing sound smoother. He called it the “8 Juke,” which became super popular in Kobe!

Two microphones on a table in a karaoke room.
“Karaoke” means “empty orchestra”. Image via Shutterstock

That is also when karaoke’s name was born. It mixes two Japanese words: kara (empty), and okesutora (orchestra). Inoue’s idea spread quickly in Japan and then to other countries. A Filipino inventor named Roberto del Rosario was making waves with his own singing invention in 1975.

Additionally, this type of entertainment quickly became popular across Asia and made its way to America and many other Western nations in the 1990s. Today, you can easily enjoy karaoke in many ways. You can sing your favorite songs with your family and friends in karaoke bars, at home, or online!

Why did it become popular?

First, it’s fun and affordable entertainment. You can find singing machines in both public places and at home, so everyone can join in on the singing fun without spending lots of money. Also, you can buy a player at a very cheap price or even find free software online. It’s a wallet-friendly way to enjoy singing and making memories with friends without breaking the bank!

A bunch of friends at a karaoke bar.
Karaoke was originally invented in 1967. Image via Shutterstock

Furthermore, this fantastic pastime also helps people dream big! Reality TV shows like American Idol have given aspiring singers a chance to shine. As a result, many people see it as a way to start their journey to fame. With more and more people loving cover songs, it offers an easy way for anyone to perform their favorite tunes without needing a band or expensive equipment.

In Japan, where karaoke originated, it’s a pastime and a cultural phenomenon. Karaoke bars are everywhere. They have public and private rooms where you can sing with your friends. It’s about feeling connected and enjoying each other’s company while singing together.

Are you looking for amazing snacks before heading to a karaoke bar? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest spring goodies directly from Japan!

Can I still go to a karaoke bar today?

Thanks to Japanese people’s love for this entertaining activity, karaoke bars continue to top the list of favorite hangout spots for young people. You should check out these three typical bars in Tokyo!

Karaoke Kan

This is a well-known place in Tokyo where you can sing and drink as much as you want until morning. It’s popular with students, office workers, and foreigners because of its great deals. With a range of room options from basic to VIP and large party rooms, there are many options for everyone. In Kabukicho, some rooms can fit more than 60 people.

The outside of Karaoke Kan.
There’s practically a Karaoke Kan on every block in the city! Image via Shutterstock

Moreover, Karaoke Kan in Udagawacho, Shibuya, is also renowned among movie fans, especially those who love “Lost in Translation”. Rooms 601 and 602 are extra special because Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson sang there.

One Coin Bar Champion

Champion Bar is renowned not only for its affordable drinks but also for its singing sessions. Situated among the many small bars and cozy spots of Shinjuku Golden Gai, this legendary bar stands out for its accessibility and welcoming atmosphere. 

The inside of Champion Bar.
This bar is just outside of Golden Gai! Image via Tablelogue

With drinks priced at just one coin (500 yen) and no additional charges, it’s a popular choice for visitors worldwide. The karaoke bar offers a variety of alcoholic beverages, including beer, cocktails, bourbon, gin, and tequila. Karaoke is also accessible for customers, adding to the lively and inclusive vibe of the place.

Big Echo

Big Echo is recognized as the biggest karaoke chain in the country. This brand is known for its top-quality DAM karaoke experience. They have rooms of all sizes with cool decorations and a comfy vibe. Plus, their machines support multiple languages like English, Korean, and Chinese, making them easy for everyone to use. 

The outside of Big Echo.
Big Echo is also a popular karaoke chain! Image via Shutterstock

In addition, Big Echo also offers music accessories such as tambourines and maracas to make your singing time even more fun. And when you want to take a break from singing, you can have yourself with tasty Japanese food and different kinds of drinks here. 

Why should you go to a karaoke bar?

A bearded man singing at a karaoke bar.
A karaoke bar is a good place to enjoy music while hanging out with friends! Image via Shutterstock

Whether singing alone or with friends, you can have a blast singing your favorite songs in a lively and friendly environment at karaoke bars. These bars also provide budget-friendly entertainment, allowing you to have a fantastic time without spending much money. So, what are you waiting for? Have you ever been to a karaoke bar before? Grab your friends and head to a singing bar for an unforgettable night! Leave a comment below and let us know about your singing adventures!

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