The chain of Karaoke-Kan’s in Shibuya means that getting to belt out an 80’s classic is always going to be a possibility on a Friday night. With around several establishments dotted around the city, private karaoke rooms are available should you fear embarrassment from singing in front of others, are available from around £15 an hour, and most have an assortment of extra features, such as concert-style lighting, to add to the rock star experience.
30-8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Molecular gastronomy in Tokyo. It's no surprise that one of Tokyo's most expensive hotels should have a good restaurant or two, but it's perhaps less usual to head to such hotels for fun dining. So hats off for not taking themselves too seriously in their Molecular Tapas Bar, which offers just two sittings per evening for seven people per sitting.
Around 25 courses are served with liquid nitrogen, syringes, glass plates and steel menus to the fore. Each dish is explained, prepared in front of you and the emphasis is on having a laugh and enjoying the experience. A visit last week included dishes such as 'red', 'cappuchino candy floss', a brilliant homemade mozzarella, 'cucumber caviar' and a beer with a Yakult froth tasting. Great fun and at £60 a head, it's terrific value - maybe for a last night in the city. Somehow Tokyo seems the perfect setting for high-tech cuisine.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Chuo-ku,Tokyo
03 3270 8800 www.mandarinoriental.co.jp
Karaoke – Japanese style – is the ultimate cultural experience. Forget everything you know about karaoke at home in smoky pubs on a Thursday night. In Japan it’s a finely-tuned experience. Rent a soundproof lounge room with your mates or colleagues, close the door and go crazy choosing from a massive selection of songs (in English) on the wireless system. It’s mad, it’s hilarious and it’s a fantastic insight into the culture of the Japanese. The whole stiff, formal everyday ending in a no-holds barred explosion of sillyness where you get to laugh at each other.
In Tokyo try the insanely kitsch and colourful Shidax Village Club in Shibuya. This massive complex has 130 private rooms spread over six floors of fun. Prices start at 544 yen for 30 minutes but forget that as soon as you read it. Order the 2 hour, all-you-can-drink version for 4200 yen per person. You get to pick up the phone, dial 11, and order the beers. They show up within five minutes. Best with a group, as you might expect.
Your only regret? Missing out on my powerful, soulful renditions of Surfin’ USA, Roxanne and my piéce de la resistance: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You'll just have to learn to live with that.
Shidax is located at Jinnan 1-12-13, only a five minute walk from Shibuya Station. Take the street to the right of the huge Starbucks on the first floor over Shibuya intersection and look for the huge neon Shidax sign.
Tel: 03 3461-9356
There are thousands of festivals throughout the year in Japan, you can often accidentally stumble on them in the most unlikely of places, for example, I once bumped into a troupe of traditionally dressed dancers parading through a shopping center. The ultimate festival to attend has to be a Bon dance. Held during the summer people gather in the town square for a group dance. At the center are the professionals who have been practicing all year, whilst children, foreigners and the inebriated are welcomed in the peripheries. The atmosphere is fantastic, the costumes exquisite and the food delicious.
My advice is not to leave it to chance but to log onto the Japan Times’ festival guide at:
It’s the most comprehensive guide I’ve come across.
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