Mr Sato belts out a tune in the phone-booth style box and emerges like Superman.

In Japan, the term “karaoke box” can mean a number of different things to different people. Depending on your age and where you grew up, a karaoke box might conjure up images of an everyday karaoke chain with private rooms, or it might bring up memories of an outdoor site with karaoke rooms made from converted freight containers.

These days, though, karaoke boxes are becoming more like literal boxes, growing so small in size they’re actually one-person booths. And while some of these booths can be found as part of larger karaoke chains, the boxes are now breaking free to become standalone booths, thanks to HacoKara, which literally means “Box Karaoke“.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato recently came across one of these HacoKara in an unlikely location at the Aeon cinema at Makuhari in Chiba, and after discovering it would cost him just 100 yen to belt out a song, he reached into his pocket for a coin and stepped inside.

▼ Is it a phone booth? Is it a changing room? No, it’s a karaoke box!

HacoKara aims to provide songbirds with a quick song fix by offering over 240,000 songs from a high-tech “Live Dam Stadium” karaoke machine.

The box is a little bigger than a telephone box, and fits two people comfortably. And while the walls of the booth are made from glass, you won’t have to worry about people outside watching you, thanks to the cleverly placed frosted privacy panels.

The booth is large enough to fit two people at a time, and the Dam machine also lets you record a video of yourself singing, so you can really feel like a superstar.

One thing you have to be careful of is the fact that the booth only accepts 100-yen coins. After the coin has been inserted, though, all you have to do is select a song from the device and sing just as you would at a regular karaoke joint.

This time Mr Sato chose to sing the song “Image” from The Blue Hearts’ 1990 album Bust Waist Hip (1990). This track was one of Mr Sato’s favourites when he was younger, and the familiar tune took him right back to his high school karaoke days.

He belted out the song without a care in the world, using the attached headphones to clearly hear his voice. It wasn’t bad, if Mr Sato did say so himself, and once he was done he felt strangely rejuvenated, as if all his stresses had magically lifted from his shoulders.

The only problem was that the singer next door to him seemed to be operating the machine at a slightly higher volume, which meant the sound was leaking out from the booth. So that’s something to be aware of if you turn the volume up too much.

The amount of noise generated is really minimal, though, and with all the other background noise outside the booth, there’s no need to feel self-conscious. It’s a fun way to de-stress, and Mr Sato felt he could take on the world like a superhero after his quick visit to the box.

Now if only they could start installing these booths at busy train stations around Tokyo. They’d no doubt have queues of people waiting to use them, because as we all know, riding the overpacked trains in Japan can be incredibly stressful.

Related: Aeon Cinema HacoKara  
Photos: ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]