Looking for something new to do in Japan besides indulging in sushi or shopping? Perhaps you can harness your inner superstar at a karaoke joint, have a date at a movie theater or pass some time at a net café.
Guide to karaoke, movie theaters and net cafes in Japan
Here’s all you need to know about these three venues and how to make the most of the experience.
Movie theaters in Japan
The main thing you need to know about movies in Japan is that they’re aired in Japanese. On a positive note, you might find some international blockbusters subbed in English at Tokyo cinemas but watching one with English audio will be challenging to find.
Another thing about Japanese cinemas is that they tend to air international movies later than the premiere date, so you will need to keep your eyes and ears closed from spoilers while you wait to watch one on the big screens.
Your main advantage when watching shows in Japanese cinemas is anime or locally produced movies. These often come out ahead of international premieres, if they even make it to cinemas abroad.
When planning to see a movie in Japan, take note of the viewer limitation, such as PG12 for kids under 12 needing parental guidance or R18+, meaning the film is prohibited for those under 18. Much like the train situation, it’s best to avoid making noise inside the theater and to turn your mobile phone off or put it in silent mode.
If you’re going to the cinemas on the weekend, it’s advised to check if online booking is available to avoid hassles and pick the best seats. As an added perk, most theaters in Japan also offer a Ladies’ day every Wednesday when female patrons can enjoy discounted tickets. Meanwhile, the first of every month is Movie Day and everyone can get some discounts. Theaters also have senior and couples discounts for even more benefits.
Then you have luxury cinemas featuring cutting-edge video and sound technology, plus the comfiest seats and delicious finger food to enjoy. Some of these theaters in Tokyo, like the Toho Cinemas in Roppongi Hills, even spray cinemagoers with some mist and scents to help experience the movie using some sensory effects. You can also try The Movie Palace Toho Cinemas in Hibiya, which have leather lazy boys so you can fully relax while indulging in the movie.
Internet cafes in Japan
Whether you’re looking to pass some time with fast internet and get some peace and quiet or in dire need of a working space, an internet café in Tokyo is always there to help. Also known as a manga kissa or kissaten (café), these netto cafés definitely fill multiple niches in the industry.
Manga cafes are all about convenience wherein they’re available 24/7, even on holidays. They are also a great option for those who missed their last train and are in need of a place to crash on a budget. In some big manga cafés, you can find a drink bar, rows of vending machines, shelves filled with manga, books, and movies, and of course, ultra-fast internet.
You can pick from shared computer spaces or private rooms with reclining seats and a designated computer. Upon entering a manga café, you must register your name, address, and phone number to become a member. An ID is also required. Some establishments might also ask you to pay a one-time membership fee.
For short stays, most internet cafes charge around ¥200 per thirty minutes. If you’re planning to stay the night in a private room, you’ll be charged around ¥2,500 for eight to ten hours. Extra items like towels, toothbrushes, or hairdryers are also available for an extra charge.
Karaoke in Japan
Your next option would be belting out some notes in karaoke, another highly popular entertainment venue in Japan. People of all ages enjoy passing the time with karaoke, and you’ll be surprised that locals take it quite seriously.
Most karaoke establishments in Japan are open from 11 am to 3 am the following morning and cost about ¥100 per 30 minutes per person. The price can go up to ¥400 during peak periods like weekends or holidays. You can also choose the all-you-can-sing package, costing around ¥500-¥2,500 per person, depending on the period.
Upon entering a karaoke outlet, you’ll be asked at the reception counter if it’s your first time, as you will need to fill up a form. You’ll need to present a proof of identity and inform the staff how many you are in the group, your duration of stay, the possibility of ordering drinks or food (at a separate cost), and the type of karaoke machine you need (some establishments can get fancy).
Modern karaoke players are touch screen and offer songs in multiple languages, so even foreigners can enjoy the classics. Some big-name outlets even have costumes or props in the lobby, which you can use to your heart’s content.
When you get thirsty or hungry, head on over to the drink bar with a free flow of non-alcoholic drinks or give the reception a call for your order. Once done, paying is also easy at the counter. Some popular karaoke bars in Japan offering up-to-date songs and modern karaoke players include Big Echo, Cote D’Azur, and Karaokekan.
There you have it, three fool-proof ways to enjoy, relax or pass time in Japan. If you’re looking for a new activity to try in the country, add these to your list!