In Japan, karaoke is kind of a big deal. Whether you’re a salaryman (a businessman) grabbing a drink with co-workers, or just out with friends for the evening karaoke is always a great option. The actual word karaoke comes from kara, meaning empty, and ōkesutora, which means orchestra, but karaoke joints the world over are anything but empty! The invention of karaoke is largely credited to Daisuke Inoue, of Kobe, Japan in 1971. Inoue was a drummer who was frequently asked by his guests to provide recordings of his performances so fans could sing along when he was absent. Realizing the potential for this kind of recording, Inoue developed a tape recorder like machine that would play a song for a 100 yen coin. Soon, Inoue was leasing his new machines to stores and venues all over the city.
Originally, karaoke was considered a somewhat expensive fad, as it lacked the live atmosphere of a real performance, and 100 yen in the 1970s was the price of two lunches, but it caught on as a popular form of entertainment. Karaoke machines were initially placed in restaurants and hotel rooms, but soon a new business called a karaoke box, with compartmented rooms for a more private experience, became popular. In 2004, Daisuke Inoue was awarded the tongue-in-cheek Ig Nobel Peace Prize for inventing karaoke, “thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.”
At Hatsume, we invite you to come sing your jūhachiban, best song, or just cheer on those brave enough to take to the stage. The Morikami Theater will be rocking from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Get your crew together and start rehearsing, or try out some hitokara (solo karaoke singing). Either way, have fun, and don’t forget to cheer on your fellow singers!