Friday, December 2, 2011


The other night I finally had a chance to check out where they filmed the karaoke scenes in Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation. It's a Karaoke-Kan in Udagawacho, just off Center Gai and a few minutes walk from Shibuya station. Aside from the fact that a few of the rooms - like 601, where the movie was shot - offer amazing views of the street outside, the place is nothing special, really, one of a generic national chain of establishments where, like Shidax and Big Echo, you pay per hour and per person for a private room. I do like the direct telephone line to the bar, and when the waiters stoop on bended knee as not to block your view of the screen. But I need to ask: why are so many karaoke-box tunes accompanied by video footage of the Brooklyn Bridge?

Alas, our small group of four women, arriving at this Karaoke-Kan around 11:30pm on a rainy Friday night in November, could not book 601 (or 602, another room the filmmakers used), but were instead escorted to a windowless space down the hall, so we could have been anywhere. And the song selection fell short - no Adele! can you believe? - which surprised me, especially when just a couple weeks before I had spent half an hour in a karaoke room with the kids at EST, also in Shibuya, on the east side of Meiji dori across from Miyashita koen, and they had everything. EST also has ping pong, billiards, bowling and a videogame arcade - a post for another time. (And is it pronounced "est"? or "ee-ess-tee"? Anybody?)

As we were leaving to go home around 1 a.m., we saw that 601 was vacant and so stepped inside to snap a few.  I've been hearing Bill Murray singing Elvis Costello in my head ever since: "What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding..." 
Ya think Bill stood right here, in this same spot?!??

Karaoke-Kan, 30-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. (Located northwest of Shibuya station and the big scramble crossing, on the same road as the big Coach, Loft, HMV and Zara stores; if you are walking with Coach and Loft on your right, HMV and Zara on your left, the building will be ahead on the left hand side before the police office/koban, where the road bends to the north toward Tokyu Hands.)
Tel: 03-3462-0785
Open 11 am to 6 pm

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