Off Into The Sunset

Just Something To Do

A Sad Night in Japantown

I love karaoke, despite the fact that I’m just plain awful at singing. I realize that. I’m not tone-deaf, or anything like that. I can hear that I’m off on many of the notes. My problem is my voice has a really narrow range. Now that I have a place all to myself, I’m starting to practice singing a lot more often, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty to listen to.

Anyway, despite the lack of any improvement, because I’ve been practicing a few more songs, both Japanese and English, I was really looking forward to having some fun and singing in front of some people a couple of weekends ago. A couple of friends and I had been frequenting this izakaya-style place in Japan Center called Mogura (もぐら). It’s not perfect as far as authenticity, but it’s the only place in America I’ve been to that serves izakaya food with karaoke - with both Japanese and English songs. Most other karaoke joints in this city are either Korean-run rent-a-room style, or American-style with a DJ and a single stage. The rent-a-room places are what they do in Japan, so those would be fun, but at this point in my life, getting 4 or more people together to sing karaoke (in this country, anyway) is a monumental task. So this place was special.

Imagine my disappointment, then, as my friend Glee and I walk in there poised to sing our butts off after a considerable absence. I ask for the songbook. She didn’t understand - hmm, she’s probably not Japanese? She’s not, but, much, much worse than that - there is no songbook!! The story they told me was that they had let their license to have music performed there lapse, and that it would be reinvoked in a month or so. Honestly, I haven’t been so disappointed in years. I felt like a five-year-old who was promised a new bike for Christmas but instead got a pair of used socks. I still feel that way, honestly.

I will keep an eye on this place, in case they “regain their license”. I don’t feel very confident in that outcome, however. My only other alternatives at this point are a) get a group of at least 4 people together to rent a room to sing and drink, or b) go sing in Japan. I plan on heading to Japan in March, so the remaining question at this point is which one comes first. Either way, I’ll still really miss Mogura a lot.