I never went to karaoke because I have stage fright quite honestly. But I always liked the idea of going to a place you’d see in anime, in a booth with your friends. Well, luckily you can have a Japanese karaoke experience right in NYC!
There are actually quite a number of places in the city that allow you this sort of leisure activity, but the one I frequent is Duet. There are two locations, one at 48th street and 2nd Ave. and one near K-Town and the Jacob Javits Center at 35th street and 6th Ave. Warning: Duet 35 is easy to miss since it is on the second floor.
Duet has the right balance between song selection, atmosphere, and price. There are various room sizes from small booths that hold 2-4 people to big party rooms that easily hold 20+. If you are thinking of coming on the weekend, it is a good idea to make a reservation. But you can save a bundle and sing a ton by coming during the week or early in the daytime. They even have “karaoke marathon” specials which means you can sing all you want from open to 8PM for just $12 per person Monday-Thursday and $14 per person on the weekends. Be aware you can’t bring drinks because there is a bar, but you can bring food and they also have menus from local places so you can order food to be brought right to Duet.
If you are going to attempt anime songs, you’ll need to ask specifically for the Japanese song book. Also if you aren’t adept at the Japanese language bring a list of the titles in kanji/kana since the book will of course not be in romanji. Same thing goes for song lyrics, you should bring a print out of the song in romanji if you can’t read Japanese characters. I tend to stick to the English songs, everything from new hits to broadway tunes can be found. Both their English and Japanese song list are constantly being updated, too.
While you are singing your heart out you and your friends can delight in the hilarious videos that play in the background which usually have little to do with the song. If you’ve never done karaoke, this is a great way to start!