I thought I'd make a post to explain a little bit about karaoke in Japan. As you've probably heard, karaoke is really popular here. In Hikone alone I've already been to three karaoke places, and i know of a least five more I've seen. Karaoke is a really popular thing to do for young people, but it's different from karaoke bars like we have in the States. At all the karaoke places I've been to so far, you go with your friends and rent out one of the many small rooms in the building. Like the one above, the actual room has a booth with a table in the middle and a tv on one side. You use a remote control to pick songs that you or your friends want to sing, then the lyrics show up on the screen with some interesting stock footage in the background. The good thing about these kinds of places is you don't have to make a fool out of yourself in front of strangers(not fun), just your friends (fun). You get two microphones so you never feel like you're in the spotlight (unless you want to be of course). Also, you can use the phone in the room (to the left of the guy's head in the third picture) to order drinks and food to the room.
I like Japanese karaoke a lot more than its American counterpart. There are probably this type of places somewhere in the US, but so far I've only seen karaoke bars in America. I just thought this would be useful information for anyone who wonders why karaoke is so popular in Japan.