Topics in Japan #101:
Hitokara ─ a new form of karaoke
Karaoke, originally a Japanese word created
from kara (meaning “empty”) and oke (meaning
“orchestra”), is now known as a global word to express a
form of entertainment in which people sing along with recorded
music. And of course in Japan, singing at karaoke bars,
or in karaoke rooms, is one of the most typical
entertainments and is loved by all generations.
However, some people may feel a little uncomfortable when going to karaoke with others. For example, if you love singing but are not good at it, you may feel embarrassed to let others listen to your singing. Or, if you want to sing as many songs as possible, you may not enjoy just sitting and listening to others singing, while waiting for your turn. Also, if you and your company have different tastes in music, that could be a problem, too.
To solve all these problems, more and more
people have begun to enjoy hitokara or hitori
karaoke (meaning “going to karaoke alone”), over the
last few years. In hitokara, you don't have to
your time listening to others singing but can just concentrate
on singing your favorite songs. If you're not good at singing,
you can practice alone and prepare for a "real stage" with
your friends or co-workers. And of course, if you want to
become a professional singer, hitokara is a great
place to practice singing.
Still, going to the front desk of a karaoke
place and saying, "I'm by myself," could be a little embarrassing.
So, last year, a company called Koshidaka opened a new type
of karaoke place, "One Kara," which specializes
in hitokara. At One Kara, the rooms are smaller
enough for one person to fit
in. They have the usual karaoke equipment , but each
customer wears headphones to listen to the music while they
are singing. The hitokara idea is still a very
new business, but Koshidaka plans to open more of the same
in Tokyo this year. If the hitokara business catches
on, singing alone may become a typical pastime in Japan,
and the rest of the world, in the future.