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The Inexplicable Lure of Karaoke

Posted on 2005/12/28 12:41:24 (December 2005).

[Tuesday 27th December]
Some time after 9 in the evening I found myself in the offices of a Tokyo radio broadcasting company, looking on as my new found drinking companions, somewhat tipsy, politely teased their colleagues who were still at work. It was an amusing but slightly odd moment - another one of those "Where am I?" sorts of situations, where I have to take a step back and remind myself how much daily life has changed since the start of this year.

I hadn't planned for this particular night out actually. Chie had some office party thing to go to, so on my "night off" I thought I would go over to Ikebukuro to visit my favourite bar there. On the way out of the office around 6:30 I just mentioned to one of my colleagues (whom I seem to have developed a habit of regularly going out for a drink with) that I was leaving. He said he'd come with me, as he was getting the train in the direction of Shinjuku.

Somehow en route I got talked into joining my colleague on his night out, and so I never made it to Ikebukuro. We went to somewhere around Hanzomon, and joined two of my colleagues' friends in a somewhat upmarket izakaya (more like a tapas bar really), where they'd clearly already made a decent start of it without us. They were really lovely people, extremely welcoming, and almost at once I felt very much at home there. My colleague had on occasion mentioned that, whilst he liked his new job and everything, the people in the software industry were just "not quite the same" as the people he was used to from the broadcast industry. Tonight was a very good demonstration of this - I struggle to imagine having such a fun evening with two software engineers I had never met before.

We left the izakaya (or whatever it was) place some time after 9, and went up a couple of floors in the same building to visit my hosts' office. There were still a few people dutifully working away, which our appearance utterly disrupted. Once this task was achieved, we took one more person from the company away with us to go to, yes, you guessed it, a little karaoke place round the corner.

Me and my colleague seem to have established a regular pattern of going out once a week now, and there is always karaoke involved. I think we both begin the evening thinking "No, we won't bother with the karaoke tonight", but somehow after a few drinks it becomes inevitable. It's interesting that we always go out with different people there as well as the two of us, and we've began to establish something of a double act - I have noticed a definite recurring theme of the songs we sing. For example, we have got into the habit of doing a sort of duet of "Let it be", with the occasional random insertion of broadcasting technical terms, adjusted to suit the particular field that our audience works in. Then we also sing a Japanese song - "jinsei iro iro" (life is various?!?) - as I can just about sing the chorus, which always seems to surprise people. My colleague does a lovely solo of another popular Japanese song "shima uta" (island song) - a song about Okinawa, and whenever the place has it I am heartily encouraged to sing the unofficial national anthem of Scotland - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers. Whilst my vocal talents could never be described as "good" under any circumstances, I was relatively pleased with my performance on this particular occasion - at least nothing particularly embarassing.

Another (unfortunate) recurring theme of when I go out with this particular colleague is that we tend to get back home rather late, typically in the region of 4AM, causing our respective significant others to be somewhat cross with us. No doubt he blames me for this in the same way I blame him! Anyway, tonight I was determined not to get in Chie's bad books, so I bowed out from the karaoke place around 11:30, and then made a swift return home. I was back just after midnight, which appears was acceptable. However, I was still slightly in trouble as it turned out she'd had a call from a friend of hers who wanted to go for a drink, and as Chie was busy with her office party she'd sent him on to meet me at my favourite bar in Ikebukuro. Apparently he waited two hours there, and I never showed up. Of course this is sort of borderline as to whether or not I can be blamed, given that I had no prior knowledge Chie was going to send anyone to meet me, and I had only decided to go to Ikebukuro in the first place to kill time by myself, but still I did feel a bit guilty at the thought of Chie's friend sitting in that bar all by himself! I guess the lesson to be learned here is that I really ought to get a mobile phone ASAP.

Comment 1

I wanna come to karaoke with you next time I am in Japan! It ought to be hilarious! :) I like to go but we never seem to have enough time, I guess my working patterns overthere are quite maniac, but I wanna take some days off next time so maybe... :)

Posted by Lox at 2005/12/28 08:20:28.

Comment 2

Yes Lox, whilst (again) I would hesitate before suggesting I am good at karaoke, I am at least quite experienced in this field now.

It would be great to relive some old Radstock classics through this old medium!

Alanis Morisette, for example, always reminds me of the top floor (i.e. yours and Tim's rooms) of Radstock...

Posted by John at 2005/12/28 24:15:09.

Comment 3

How about some old Skunkanasie, Radiohead or even Cake? :)

Posted by Lox at 2005/12/28 22:23:57.

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