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Sing’em away but not in the rain

Date Posted: 2001-07-28

One of the most enjoyable activities the Okinawans indulge in is karaoke. Other than the pronunciation, there are some differences between the karaoke we enjoy in the States and the variety locals enjoy here.

Recently, I went out with some friends who had never been in a karaoke pub, and were a bit reluctant to try it. I have been many times myself and always have a great time regardless whether I’m drinking or not. After much coaxing and reassurance, (“Really, I think you have a great singing voice! ”), I was able to get them to try a karaoke bar off-base.

The great thing about karaoke in Okinawa is that you’re not standing on a stage in front of a hundred people you don’t know, making a fool of yourself. With the private rooms for groups of 4 - 20 people, you can make a fool of yourself in front of your friends who are doing the same, so there’s no need to be shy!

We decided to try Big Echo, near the Dragon Palace in Chatan Town’s American Village. They have a large number of rooms available and time is charged per hour per room (about ¥1,800 for a small room). Big Echo is very clean and the staff speaks English. They were very helpful and always prompt with the food and drinks when we ordered. Their menu is great, with dishes ranging from three types of pizza to five types of cakes. They also serve a variety of wines and beers as well as soft drinks.

Once you’ve been escorted to your room, the attendant will show you how to operate the karaoke machine and order room service. The karaoke books have a large selection of Japanese and English songs. The rooms are quite soundproof, so you can sing as loud and as proud as you want!

They are open Monday - Friday, 1 p.m. – 5 a.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, 12 a.m. – 5 p.m. You can make reservations by calling 926-3300 and let them know what the day and starting time will be, how many people and the number of hours you’d like to sing. You can always call them from the phone in your room and add an extra hour or two if they’re not too busy.

To get there, exit Kadena Gate 1 and go south on Hwy. 58 to the Chatan Town Office street (or Kuwae Lodge entrance). Make a right and continue to the 2nd street. There will be a Family Mart on the corner. Make a left and Big Echo is on the left with plenty of parking.

Another popular and fun place is Ichibankan. Located across from Kadena Gate 1, behind the car lot, it’s convenient for those who don’t dare stray too far from base. Ichibankan also provides rooms for parties of any size and can arrange party packages that include food and drinks for large groups of up to 50 people. Reservations are recommended and you can call them at 936-0311.

Karaoke is so much fun and easy to do that once you get into it, you’ll be surprised when you realize that you’ve been singing for five hours! Ichibankan is open from 5 pm to 5 am, every day.

Karaoke is great with family and friends. You’re guaranteed to enjoy this Okinawan pastime. So, get out of singing in the shower and start your own party with a song or two at your favorite karaoke spot!

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