For new readers/subscribers (hello, thank you) this month’s blog theme is all things Japanese. In the last 22 days I’ve discussed a variety of things that perhaps you didn’t know about the health/wellbeing of the country – from anger venting vases to why it might be a good thing that Japanese docs don’t always reveal to their patients that they have cancer. Today though I’m going for a full on Japanese cliche – and talking karaoke.
In Japan karaoke is a stress relieving and bonding experience. You go, with friends or colleagues, to a private karaoke room and sing your little heart out. But it’s not just your mind (or career) that gets a boost as you do this; singing has been proven to biologically impact on your body and boost health in other ways too. Here’s just a few of the benefits….
- It improves immunity: Singing increases levels of IgA, an immune protein that’s particularly good at fighting respiratory infections. Any song will work, but some sound therapists believe that singing long ooooo sounds (as in words like you, tool, school) are particularly immunity boosting as they stimulate the spleen
It strengthens the lungs and raises circulation potentially boosting heart health – and it’s been linked with longevity accordingly.
Last but not least it burns calories. One of my favourite health stories ever appeared in 1999 – and I still remember it now. It was about a Japanese karaoke company who had actually analysed how many calories you burn singing specific songs on their playlist. On average it’s between 10-20 calories a song – not surprisingly the faster the song the more it uses up – weirdly though My Way by Frank Sinatra will see you burn 15.6 cals, which might have something to do with the fact that you can only sing it with swagger and enthusiasm.
So, my advice today is to get out there and sing. If you don’t want to do it in public, do it on your own – in the shower, in the car, down the shed where no-one else can hear you, but sing, sing a song (as the Carpenters would say).
Additional Tourist Tip Bit: Where to Sing Karaoke in Osaka.
I spent ages trying to google this before I left and found nothing – until we came across a tiny mention in a bar guide so, to make things easier for anyone else who’s travelling to Osaka and wants to sing karaoke, the name you need to know is Kama Sutra bar.
Now, I admit when I first read this I was nervous – Osaka is not exactly unknown for red light districts and girly bars and with a name like that I was wondering where we’d end up – and whether I as a female would be welcome there, but I needn’t have worried. The biggest problem you’re going to have in Kama Sutra is finding the place.
Officially the address is as follows. 5th Floor, Jumbo Building, 2-1-13 Higashi Shisaibashi. There’s also a handy map and directions on this website, We got a bit lost as according to The Boyfriend, who was using google maps the pin is slightly wrong, it’s actually round the corner to the left a bit. You may have better luck but if in doubt ask for the Jumbo Building, someone will help you.
Inside the bar is tiny – a few seats along the bar and standing room after that, officially it holds 25 people. I think at one point in the evening – about 3am – it was close to that. From the second you walk in though you’re made to feel welcome, the little karaoke picking device is thrust toward you and there’s a HUGE list of songs in both Japanese and English. Novice singers can also be rest assured, if it looks like you’re struggling, or you want a duet partner the staff will join in to help you out.
I was in my element. Even now I’m getting flashbacks of what I sang – at last recall, I remember doing Since You’ve Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson), Bad Romance (Lady Gaga), Don’t Stop Believing (Glee), Mr Brightside (The Killers), Rolling in the Deep (Adele), Fat Lip (Sum 41) and Welcome to the Black Parade (My Chemical Romance). The Boyfriend – who swore until now that he hated karaoke – did Don’t You Want Me by The Human League, Baggy Trousers by Madness. Come on Eileen by Dexys and Starman by Bowie. We’d met some people in Tokyo who we had persuaded to meet us in Osaka for the purpose of singing, and they, while probably wondering who they heck they’d picked up in a Tokyo bar covered Dance With Me by Justin Timberlake, American Pie by Madonna, Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis, Wonderwall by Oasis, Like a Prayer by Madonna – other bar patrons did songs by Radiohead, Avril Lavigne, Blur, Metallica, and after that lot my memory goes a bit blank, but my point is, if you can’t find a song you like in that lot, I can’t help you!
If you want to sing karaoke in Osaka – do it at Kama Sutra.
Main image: freedigitalphotos.net