There are lots of ways to spend your free time in Japan; roadtrips, bowling, taking one-off cultural lessons, and, of course, karaoke. If you’re downtown in any given city in Japan, you’ll run across the Jankaras, the Shidaxes, the mom and pop snack bars that offer karaoke, and a host of other options. Depending on your group size or even what you like to sing, the world is at your fingertips in terms of options.
While walking the streets of Kyoto, I’ve noticed that something else has been popping up beside the karaoke boxes: climbing gyms. You can go in for one-off sessions, or sign up for a monthly membership just like you would at a traditional gym. Whether you’re already a lean, mean, climbing machine or a newbie, there’s something available for you.
It was only a matter of time before someone mashed those two ideas together.
If you go to Kyoto and head to Kawaramachi street, you’ll find a Super Jankara with two entrances: the regular one, and a little side entrance with a red carpet. Follow the red carpet, and inside you’ll be confronted with a chandelier, a reception desk, and beyond that, a room with… a skateboard ramp?!
Yes, this Super Jankara offers a few different unique rooms these days, and during Golden Week a few friends and I decided to check out what they refer to as “Bouldering Karaoke”.
We had called ahead to make a reservation. Walk-ins are possible, but you could be waiting a while, especially on a weekend or holiday. Once at the desk, we confirmed our time (two hours) and were asked if we’d brought additional shoes to climb in. Similar to a traditional gym in Japan, you are required to have indoor shoes meant purely for the exercise. When we admitted we hadn’t brought anything along, the staff provided shoes for us–simple slip-ons that I later spotted in the local 390 yen shop.
Once checked in, you are given a small, plastic “clip-board” with the number of your room and your time listed on it. Room numbers usually correlate to the floor it’s on. For example, room 302 would be on the third floor, room 405 would be on the fourth floor, etc. Head in, and what do you see?
We were confronted with a large room that, for the most part, had a heavily padded floor. Rather than having the table in the center of the room, it was shoved off to the side so that any snacks or drinks we ordered would stay safely off the tumbling mats. Most importantly was the fact that two out of the four walls were climbable, floor to ceiling.
I’ll say this much, we didn’t get nearly as much singing done as we normally would have because we were so enchanted with the climbing. Despite the walls not being very high–think of the ceiling of a standard room in a house, perhaps slightly higher–there were clearly “easy” paths and “challenging” paths you could attempt. The two hours flew by as we scampered up and down and tried to maneuver ourselves sideways across the wall.
All while belting out a song, of course.
Would I recommend it? If you have a karaoke joint near you that offers it, absolutely. We paid less than 2,000 yen per person (I want to say 1,400 yen, but it’s been long enough for my memory to get fuzzy on that detail).
Is it safe? Well, that’s debatable. There were signs in the room (in English) warning us not to climb after drinking anything alcoholic, a rule we followed. Also, while the floors are padded, you could still sprain something or hit your head if you’re careless. Basically, follow common sense and you should be all right.
If nothing else, I’ll say this has me thinking about all the other things someone could combine karaoke with! I’m thinking a bowling room. Or maybe a jacuzzi room. Hm.
Got any ideas for other combos that could be fun?