Karaoke is a thing that a love. Sadly, in the town I live in we have no karaoke. There are no karaoke bars, no karaoke parlors, not even drunken men wailing away on their late night commutes home. Though I’ve had the opportunity to sing along at some of B. Polpo’s dance parties, it’s not quite the same. Thankfully, this all changed last night.
Let’s start with how I got here. Two weeks ago I was having a drink at B. Polpo, as I often do on Fridays. In an e-mail my friend and former language partner Kenji told me I should go on a gokon. This is in response to… well I’m not sure what it was in response to. He and his wife just had a child so I think he wants me to settle down too. I’m pretty sure my mother would like Kenji. In any case, I only vaguely knew what a gokon was, so I asked my friends at B. Polpo about it. They of course interpreted this as a request to be set up on a gokon, which I’m not sure I would want. Even if I did, I don’t know any of the drinking games associated so I’m sure it would be a disaster. But it might be fun to do once. Just for the experience.
Three young women enter, former students of one of my friends and Japanese teachers. Since they enter mid gokon conversation, I am encouraged to join them. My friend Kohei joins me, and I am introduced to Yuriko, Nagisa and Asami. They speak a little English, but our conversation is primarily in Japanese, and starts with me asking them to explain gokon to me. As the night wears on, Kouhei succumbs to alcohol lethargy, and heads to another part of the bar to take a nap. As an aside, I love that you can do that here. And drink in public. Carrying on, the conversation lead to karaoke, my desire to go, my lamentation that there is none in Kato, and me drunkenly singing a few lines of Lindbergh’s 今すぐKiss Me and The Blue Heart’s Linda Linda.
While there is no karaoke in Kato, there is in Nishiwaki- the town directly north of me. The town where these ladies live. I was invited to come sing karaoke with them in two weeks time. They would pick me up in their car, and we would make a night of it. How could I say no?
Last night we made our way to a Maneki Neko Karaoke parlor. We crooned for three hours, the first of which was nomihodai (all you can drink) and had a delightful array of snacks. We did our best to sing songs in both our own and each other’s native language. I spent part of the past two weeks studying some Japanese songs but my skills there are still a bit weak. I was able to transfer some lyrics onto my DS in romaji and use that in a pinch. They found this quite clever, even though it still didn’t help me much. Regardless the ladies think I have an excellent singing voice. We all had a wonderful time, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. A night of karaoke was exactly what I needed.