All the fun of karaoke with high-spec gear, but none of the stage fright.

Karaoke in Japan is a little different from what it is overseas. While karaoke bars in the English-speaking world generally bill themselves as a place to strut your vocal stuff on-stage in front of a crowd of strangers, in Japan karaoke is primarily a private-room affair, with you and your group of friends singing just for each other.

Of course, singing in close quarters to an audience made up of personal friends who you’ll definitely see again can be intimidating in its own way. Karaoke is fun, though, so for those with stage fright of any variety, there’s the One Kara chain, which rents out one-person karaoke rooms.

One Kara has branches in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kawasaki, and SoraNews24’s shyly singing reporter Mai recently went to check one out for herself. Showing up on a weekday evening allowed her to take advantage of a three-hour package for just 1,200 yen (US$11), which is a great deal for Tokyo karaoke.

But the cheap price doesn’t mean cheap quality. One of One Kara’s big attractions is that each room is outfitted with a high-quality condenser microphone. Primarily used for studio recording sessions, condenser microphones are better at picking up delicate details of your singing voice, and One Kara mounts them on angle-adjustable telescoping arms, which allow you to position the microphone in just the right spot so you can stand or sit comfortably as you sing.

One Kara’s recording star vibe continues with high-grade headphones, which you wear while singing instead of having your vocal and backing music pumped through external speakers.

The least expensive model usually costs 300 yen to rent, but Mai’s came free as part of her three-hour weekday pack. The top-of-the-line headphones will set you back 1,200 yen, but you can also use your own pair if you’ve brought headphones with you.

Another high-tech touch is the card key you’re given to unlock your room. The doors auto-lock to ensure privacy as you sing, and an on-screen notice pops up to let you know when your time is running down, so you can decide whether to wrap things up or ask for an extension.

While the rooms aren’t extra-spacious, they’re plenty big enough for solo singers. There’s even a mirror so you can work on your stage performance/snap selfies. The three-hour weekday pack even includes unlimited self-serve soft drinks, which Mai made good use of in keeping her vocal chords nice and moist during her session.

One Kara is also foreigner-friendly, with a complete English website here offering information on their pricing plans and locations. Oh, and naturally the booth walls are completely sound-proof, so no one’s heard Mai’s singing voice except her, though we’re all waiting for her to surprise us wither talents at the next office karaoke party.

Related: One Kara official website
Photos ©SoraNews24
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