I was raking my brain to come up with something that befitted this season of Christmas parties that we have found ourselves in this week at Tokyo Telephone, when I hit on this whilst typing up the Evangelion fashion post the other day. Namely, that when it comes to Japanese entertainment involving food and alcohol, the last hook left to separate yourself from the saturation of restaurants and izakaya that clutter every single floor of every last building in Tokyo – is the theme. Luckily when it comes to themes the possibilities are virtually endless and I have seen restaurants tackle themes from mermaids to Kamakura Japan. However, whilst bars and restaurants are very very common, it was only recently that I was taken to a themed Karaoke place, in this case the Pasela on Heiwa Doori. Read on for a look inside…
On the eighth day of Christmas Tokyo Telephone sent to me: Theme Karaoke.
Perhaps it would be pragmatic to post a picture of what usually awaits you inside a Karaoke place for those who have yet to see.
Now that would be a good place, but you get the idea. Usually you get VERY dated and worn interiors that are darkened as far as possible to hide the two latter points. I have seen better inside posher ones when someone corporate has been footing the bill, but they are much the same, but slightly cleaner. No bad thing too, because by the time you hit Karaoke you should have had a drink or two unless you are one of the oddities who goes to Karaoke on your own to practice songs – yes these people do exist, and no, practice does not make perfect…
Anyway, I was delighted to go somewhere with a bit of a theme and I ended up in a retro game inspired paradise replete with Famicon rather than the Monster Hunter fest above. Obviously given the location in Akiba most of the themes were slightly nerdy to say the least, but at least they were accessible to all and not that cringy – I mean if you want to sing Karaoke with some kind of maid in a classroom (and disappoint your parents in the process) there are plenty of places like that already. Aside from the anime/manga tie-ins there were Heiwa-era rooms, train carriages and fishing lodges to sing your little heart out in. Check out their site here.
This place was quite apt for me as at least 90 percent of the Japanese language songs I know come from the theme tunes of anime or games – mostly from the late 80s and early 90s. I used to watch subbed anime and Tokusatsu on late night TV back in the day and when I later learned Japanese I was surprised how well the songs had stuck in my head all those years later. So if you see me in Karaoke you are very likely to be treated to マジンカイザーのバラッド – the Ballad of MajinKaizer and anything from Kamen Rider!
Of course, the other environment that plays well with themes are Love Hotels, but that is another topic for another time!
The only other themed Karaoke places that I can think of tend to do a bit of a “resort” vibe, but if you have any recommendation for me as a Karaoke connoisseur then fire away!
Not quite sure why you would choose the last room, oh well, maybe I have missed out on this kind of weird nostalgia by not being part of the Japanese education system prior to university (but I doubt it).
So what next for Japanese themed entertainment? I always feel like there is no-where left to go, but seconds later I am always proved wrong, whether it be by a Guinea Pig themed bar or Beethoven themed love hotel. Tokyo, I salute you!