How is karaoke culture different between Japan and Taiwan? Japanese language teacher living in Taiwan introduce it! 日本と台湾のカラオケ文化はどうちがうの?台湾在住の日本語教師がご紹介します!




Do you know that karaoke is a subculture that originated in Japan and has spread worldwide like anime?

Karaoke can be found anywhere in Japan, and it is well-known worldwide to the extent that it is called “karaoke” even in English.

Today, let’s look at this karaoke together.


What is Karaoke?




In Japanese, “kara” in “karaoke” means “empty” or “without content,” and “oke” is an abbreviation of “orchestra.” Karaoke was originally a specialized term used in the broadcasting industry.

Originally, it referred to professional singers performing songs without an orchestra, using recordings with accompaniment on records or cassette tapes. It was called “karaoke” because it meant “without orchestra.”

The beginning of the present-day karaoke was when these professionally made accompaniment tracks were improved for the public.

Karaoke Boxes



The development of karaoke machines as we know them today occurred around the 1970s. At first, they were placed in hostess bars and bars, where people would sing while enjoying drinks in an open space.

Later, in the mid-1980s, karaoke boxes started to appear, and nowadays, when people say “karaoke” in Japan, it generally refers to the style of singing in karaoke boxes.




Karaoke boxes are small rooms inside large establishments where you can enjoy karaoke. People rent one of these rooms for a certain amount of time and spend a fun time singing with friends, colleagues, or other close acquaintances.

Some establishments even provide small instruments like tambourines and maracas, as well as cosplay costumes, creating a space where you can experience something out of the ordinary.

Additionally, many karaoke boxes offer drinks, including alcoholic beverages, as well as light snacks such as pizza, pasta, and snacks, so you can enjoy karaoke at your own pace.

Diversification of Karaoke




If you’re not good at Japanese yet and worried about whether you can sing in karaoke, don’t worry.

The monitor displays the lyrics in hiragana, and with the guide vocal function, it will sing along with you.

As often seen on TV programs, karaoke machines also come with scoring functions, allowing you to assess your own singing or compete for scores with a group.



Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the way karaoke is used has also changed. Some people enjoy solo karaoke to practice their favorite anime songs, while others use karaoke for purposes other than singing, such as watching live performances or movies at high volume without singing, or even playing musical instruments in soundproof karaoke rooms.

Moreover, you can now enjoy karaoke at home using your smartphone or game console without going to a karaoke box.

Karaoke Culture in Taiwan




Karaoke is popular among people of all ages in Taiwan, where I currently live.

Young people often go to karaoke boxes called KTV, similar to Japan, to sing. On the other hand, older people may sing in parks or on buses during tour trips.

It’s a common sight to hear Japanese songs while walking in parks.



Recently, glass-enclosed solo karaoke booths, resembling telephone booths, have also appeared in supermarkets and department stores in Taiwan.

These booths are soundproofed, and you can sing a song for about 100 yen.

KTV in Taiwan




There are many chain karaoke box stores in Taiwan, but unlike the small rooms in Japan, karaoke in Taiwan is luxurious.

The reception areas are decorated with chandeliers, resembling hotel front desks, and each private room is spacious, some even equipped with dedicated toilets.

Although it has become less common due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there used to be buffets offering all-you-can-drink soft drinks and all-you-can-eat snacks.




In Taiwanese karaoke, in addition to Chinese, Taiwanese, and Cantonese songs, there are also foreign songs in English, Japanese, Korean, and other languages.

However, the selection of foreign-language songs is limited to well-known ones, so the number of songs is relatively small, and the latest songs may not be available.

For those who want to sing the latest Japanese songs, there are several Japanese karaoke establishments in Taipei. You can sing new songs there about a month later.

Cultural Differences in Karaoke



Both Japan and Taiwan have karaoke boxes, but there are differences in customs.

In Japan, karaoke is seen as a place to go for singing, while in Taiwan, it is seen as a place to have fun in a group.




For example, in Japan, if there are five people, they would take turns reserving one song each to ensure equality. In Taiwan, however, people can reserve as many songs as they want in any order.

While this may seem unfair, it also means that if someone wants to sing a song that was already reserved, multiple people can share the microphone and sing together.

It’s also common for someone to change the song that has already been reserved.


In Japan, it is customary to listen to others’ songs when you’re not singing and applaud when they finish. In Taiwan, on the other hand, people who are not singing may chat, play games on their smartphones, or toast with friends, enjoying their own activities freely.



Japanese people go to karaoke to enjoy singing, while Taiwanese people go to have a lively time with friends. Even with the same karaoke activity, there are differences between countries, which makes it interesting.

Karaoke, enjoyed in different ways, can be considered a universal form of entertainment around the world.

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