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karaoke, Japanese style

Word trivia for the day: "karaoke" means "empty orchestra", and is
written with the same kanji "kara" as "karate", "empty hand".

Going out on the town in Japan means making a decision: to head back
early, or to miss the last train (which runs around 11:30pm) and either
walk, take an expensive cab, or stay out until the trains start up again
about 5:30am (many places stay open all night to take your money while
you're waiting).

Last night I decided to stay for the end of Eric's gig, which meant
missing last train. I thought I might shell out for a cab, but somehow I
got talking with a few local musicians who were going out for karaoke, and
got invited to tag along.

While I could barely communicate with these guys, how could I refuse?

Karaoke in Japan is not like it is in the U.S., where you do your thing
in front of a bar full of people. We went to a place with a several floors
of small private rooms, from which you could phone down drink orders.

Of course, I had to have a Lost in Translation moment, and
ordered up one of my favorite songs, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love,
and Understanding", among some other songs.

Now, what's particularly interesting is that my new friends were singing
mostly in English. Words that they didn't understand, but had learned
phonetically. The female vocalist was quite good, excellent pronunciation
of words she didn't understand at all.

We did the karaoke thing for about an hour and a half, then hung out at
an all-night bar/cafe until the trains started up again. I got home, slept
in until about noon.

I figured I had to get my body moving to burn off the bit of hangover I
had, so I ended up pulling out my maps and fuguring out how to bike into Namba. Osaka's downtown has two hearts (sort
of like a Time Lord), Umeda in the north and Namba in the south, both
centered around major train stations. Rode past the Osaka Dome, which is a
wacky looking some photos I'll upload later.

I think tomorrow I'll day trip into Nara, pay my respects to the
Daibutsu. Tuesday, Eric and I are planning on going to see some sumo! It's
tournament time, and Eric's become a fan - his fiance used to date a
sumotori, so he's gotten a good introduction to the sport.

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