Singing Solo: Trying Hitokara at 1Kara

On October 16, 2014

As much fun as karaoke with your boss and coworkers may be, sometimes you just want to belt out your favorite songs without interludes of enka or the Beatles. Alternatively, perhaps you want all those enka and Beatles songs to yourself. In either case, you might find a new hobby in “hitokara” (ヒトカラ): going to karaoke alone.

The hitokara trend picked up starting mid-2000s, and several companies have taken note. 1kara is the result of at least one company that saw an opportunity. Owned by Koshidaka Holdings, which is most known for the karaoke box Manekineko, 1kara caters exclusively to those who want to sing their hearts out all alone.

The 1kara website refers to its stores as “ships”, so it only makes sense that it refers to the individual karaoke rooms as “pits”. The entire decor of 1kara, with it’s various “zones”, stark colors, and angular shapes, does evoke the atmosphere of a spaceship.


The advantages of going solo to karaoke at a hitokara box start at the door. No dreaded “何名様ですか” (“How many in your party?”) question, and no pitying/suspicious looks from other guests. Like most other karaoke places, you’ll be asked to register and will be given a member’s card upon entering for the first time.

Before going, be certain to take a look at the 1kara website [Japanese] for information about campaigns. When I went to the 1kara in Akihabara, they were having a campaign in which if you discovered 1kara from their website, you can register for free, use the basic headphones for free, use the drink bar for free, and, on top of that, have a whole hour of karaoke for free. The regular price for ½ hour of karaoke and drink bar on the weekend at 1kara in Akihbara is 490 yen, so the campaign was a good deal.

After signing up and confirming any discounts, you get to choose your karaoke machine and headphones. The karaoke rooms don’t have speakers so you have to use headphones, but if you bring your own, you won’t have to rent ones from 1kara. If you are a woman, you also have the option of a room in the women-only zone.


The karaoke box itself is just enough room for one person. A big comfy chair sits in front of the karaoke machine, the TV and the condenser microphone. On top of the karaoke machine is a mixer for the more serious karaoker. For the truly dedicated, 1kara allows customers to bring instruments, as all its rooms are soundproof.

The Premium Dam karaoke machine didn’t have any Three Dog Night songs, so I was deprived of the joy of singing “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do” alone in a karaoke box. Still, enough visual kei and American oldies were available that I kept busy for the whole hour. Near the end of your session, a 10-minute warning will flash at the bottom of your TV screen.

Once you’ve created a member’s card, you can go to any 1kara in the country. The first 1kara shop was opened near Kanda Station, Tokyo, and currently, 1kara has 13 locations, most of them in Tokyo.

Have you ever done hitokara?


Spends weekends aimlessly wandering Tokyo.
  • AzianaTeh says:

    Hi! If I sing there with instrument or just karaoke, can I do recording as well?

    • Lynn says:

      Yes, you can record. In fact, 1Kara provides a recording service called Skitto – I’m not sure on the details and rumor is that it is hard to use, but here is the link in case you are interested: (only Japanese)

      I wonder if anyone knows about Skitto or knows about any good smartphone recording apps?

  • I did hitokara a few times before I left Japan. My friend told me she used to rent regular karaoke rooms alone and do karaoke. I wanted to do the same, but I was a little shy of doing it. Therefore I searched the internet and found Wankara! They hade a location close to me in Shinjuku so I went there 🙂 had a lot of fun!


    • Lynn says:

      That’s one really cool thing about Wankara. I did hitokara one time at a normal karaoke place, and of course, they asked, “How many? … Really, just one?” The normal karaoke rooms may be more spacious, but there’s no such awkwardness at Wankara. I’ll have to see how the Shinjuku one is!

  • Yoshiyuki TEZUKA says:

    This artcile is intersting for me although I never heard about “1 kara”. Each room is sound proof enough to avoid noises and also to bring headphone is a good idea. I’ll check later. Thank you for continued interesting articles.

    • Lynn says:

      Thanks for the kind comment! 1 Kara was definitely fun. I do wish that my favorite karaoke machine had been available. They only had Premium Dam machines left that day; all the Live Dam machines were taken. Maybe a weekday would be less crowded.

  • Stian Haugland says:

    Why pay to go sing alone? Might as well just stay at home. I sing in my room all the time 😀

    • Lynn says:

      Sadly, at my currently location, I’d get fussed at by the landlord/neighbors for singing in my room ): But you can bet I was singing all the time in my countryside apartment. No neighbors, hurray!

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