As a special present to ME, on the eve of Don’s birthday, he agreed to do karaoke with me (something he’s been promising since 2011).

This MAY have something to do with the fact that, during a tour of Shibuya when Don pointed out the ubiquitous blue signs with red lettering that read “Karaoke” (in katakana, no less – the syllabary Japanese use to denote a foreign word – almost as though they are trying to play it like it’s not totally associated with Japan!), I told his 20 students that his birthday is coming up and we should all get him to do karaoke with us. So perhaps singing in front of just the wife-and-kid was the lesser of two evils.

Whatever. I’ll take it!

We went in the afternoon – after all, Aardvark’s bedtime imposes a curfew on us all in Japan, since we have no sitters here. It turns out it is way cheaper to go in the daytime as well, so bonus points! (And a good tip if you ever want to try karaoke in Japan.)

(Also, if you don’t already know this, karaoke in Japan is done in private rooms, so you’re not singing on a stage to a room full of strangers, as I have done in, well, Italy, Ireland and once in LA, but at the famous karaoke place…not a good choice when you are as tone-deaf as I am, let me just say. But in Tokyo, you are just singing to your friends. Or in this case, your family, who are stuck with you despite any tone deafness.)


Aardvark selected the ABCs, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Slippery Fish for her songs, which, unsurprisingly, were not in the song catalog, so we performed them apace. But she got to (pretend) burp into the microphone at the end of Slippery Fish, and that was enough to make her day. The fact that shakers and tambourines were included in the rental just made it even better.


For his selections, Don chose some old school J-Pop from his grad school days in Tokyo and Kyoto. He rocked it!

He also, very obligingly, backed me up on some Taylor Swift and…dare I admit it? Call Me Maybe (the Song of the Summer 2012 reminds me of our time teaching in London that summer – and of course, our wedding, and an embarrassing amount of my pregnancy with Aardvark – before the hearing stage of fetal development kicked in, at which point I was prohibited from listening to it. So I have very fond memories of that song and it is a fun karaoke song, I swear!)


Unfortunately, our full-family rendition of Rainbow Connection, which was one of our wedding songs and which I sung to Aardvark nearly every night between the ages of 1.5 and 3 years old, was basically drowned out by the heavy metal singer who was screaming into the mic in the room next to us the whole time, anyway.

And who turned out to be totally alone.

As we were waiting for the elevator at the end of our time, I peeked into the other booths on our floor, and with one exception, everyone was alone. Apparently people come to legitimately practice real vocal stuff. (Which explains why, in addition to shakers and tambourines, you can also use much better headset microphones – a la Britney – metronomes, music stands and other “real” equipment included in the rental. We didn’t because we had no need for that, but it was cool to see some of the options. (You can also borrow costumes, like a sporty/saucy nun costume that obviously looked nothing like what an actual nun would wear, some weird sexy Donald-Duck outfit?! and others. I assume these come into play much later in the evening and after heavy amounts of alcohol, though.)

In all, totally worth the 5+ years wait!




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