After Hours: Japan's glorious freestyle-buffet-wedding-karaoke
April 15, 2013
The thought of getting up and singing before a rowdy barroom crowd was once mortifying.
That was before I moved to Japan. Now, that’s what I call Friday.
Karaoke is a staple in Japan — as much as sushi, sake and onsens. At Fukuoka’s Fucci, “freestyle-buffet-wedding-karaoke,” those near Sasebo Naval Base can take it a step further and combine them all. The result is nothing short of glorious.
Fucci features more than 40 rooms of varied size and offerings — from simple Japanese-style dining rooms to enormous function rooms for weddings. However, the best is definitely onsen karaoke.
On a Saturday night in March, several friends and I reserved one such room for two hours, coupled with Fucci’s buffet and nomihodai (all you can drink). We arrived from Sasebo by city bus (about a two-hour trip) and were primed to make total fools of ourselves.
Upon entering, we found a classy restaurant with a modern atmosphere, bustling with people in suits and dresses from a wedding. To get to our private room, we were led past a mouth-watering buffet that featured everything from sushi to tempura vegetables, a wide array of appetizers and entrées, a salad and dessert bar and even a chocolate fountain.
Fucci takes pride in the quality of their “beauty and health” buffet. They even use local ingredients.
We found our room divided into two parts. One side was clearly for relaxing. There were lounge chairs and tables for food. The lights were brighter, and there was a phone to order drinks to the room.
On the other, the lights were dimmed, a big-screen TV on the wall. A garden of smooth stones surrounded our giant footbath onsen with a table in the middle and plenty of song-selection machines and microphones.
We put our belongings down and went to the buffet. We grabbed several plates with a little bit of everything so we could indulge throughout the evening without having to leave the onsen. Then we ordered some drinks, turned on a steady flow of water into the bath and rolled up our pant legs as the warm water rose to just below the knees.
After we ate and drank a little, it was the good, the bad, and the ugly — Sublime to Justin Bieber to us. We stood and sloshed around in the onsen as we sang, danced and laughed the night away.
Fucci has changed names over the years. It used to be called Slow + K. They most recently changed their name last year.
Their lunch buffet runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner is 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Karaoke can be performed between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Prices vary depending on the number of people, their gender, how long you go for, what hours of the day you go for, which room you choose and also whether or not you get buffet and nomihodai, so bring plenty of money. For five of us, it worked out to be about $40 each for the guys and $35 for the girls.
Not all the karaoke rooms have onsens, so if you ask your base travel office to book for you, request a room with an onsen if that is your preference. The karaoke rooms have different themes, from Spanish to bunk-bed-style couches. Some have DVD players while others have darts.
Pictures and a floor plan can be found on the Fucci website.
Nudity is taboo, so make sure you keep your drawers on. Because we all know there is only one thing more mortifying than singing the Spice Girls in front of a large group of people: getting dragged out of a karaoke bar with no pants on.