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Cheap accommodation in Japan: Sleeping in a karaoke booth

When we told one of our Japanese Workaway hosts about the time we slept in a manga cafe, we were promptly encouraged to try the same thing in a karaoke booth.

Apparently popular with young people waiting for the first train or bus to arrive, sleeping in a karaoke booth is a cheap option (under a few conditions). So when we had an early flight from Naha to Taipei, we quickly jumped on the idea.

Naha airport closes at night so you can’t sleep there. There is however a Big Echo karaoke centre just a 30-minute walk away.

What you need to know about sleeping in a karaoke booth

  • You need to ask for the ‘free time’ package. This means that you get the booth until closing time.
  • The all-you-can-drink bar often comes in extra, but it is worth it when most karaoke centres make it compulsory to purchase at least one drink per person.
  • Most booths can sleep max 2/3  people (see our photo).  In our booth there were 2 long benches and 1 smaller one.u

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  • You must be a heavy sleeper! These places are open until the early hours and the Japanese make the most of their money singing their hearts out to songs you only thought you could hear in nightmares.
  • The price is per person occupying the booth.
  • You are not really supposed to bring your own food in. We are 95% convinced that the rooms had cameras in, but we still managed to eat a couple of snacks. discreetly. The menu is (as you can imagine) overpriced.
  • Once in the booth, you can’t leave. At least one person is expected to stay there, so eating outside is not really an option.
  • Although they close late, it might not be late enough. We were kicked out at 4am which was ok considering our early flight, but far from ideal if you want to go sightseeing! Apparently some karaoke places close later than this.

How much does it cost to do karaoke in Japan?

Our ‘free time’ package cost us around 1,800 yen (including tax and the drinks bar) per person at Big Echo, one of the largest karaoke chains in Japan. Cheaper chains and centres do exist, but we chose this one based on convenience for the airport.

Overall we had a much better time than expected in our karaoke room, singing our hearts out until much later than we should have. It is a great option if you want to try karaoke in Japan and you have to be up early, otherwise you might want some back-up accommodation to hand!

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