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Ultimate Guide to Podcasts in Japan

By  Ava McKee | October 3, 2022

A hand grasping a microphone in a dark room preparing to record a podcast in japan

Do you want to improve your Japanese in your free time, expose yourself to new perspectives, broaden your knowledge, or simply know more about Japanese culture? Then you are in luck because there are numerous podcasts in Japan that can help you learn all that you could ever want to know! Podcasts are a great way to do all of the above and more even if you are busy. It can be played in the background while you are driving,  doing chores, or partaking in other everyday activities! Podcasts in Japan are becoming incredibly popular, so start the search for the podcasts that fit your needs!

This article is part of our extensive series on Learning About Japan through Online Lessons at Japan Switch.

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    Podcasts About Japan

    As the community of international students, professionals and expats in Japan has seen an astronomical surge in the past few years, so has been an exponential increase in demand for content related to Japanese culture, lifestyle, Japanese language tools, Japanese food, business in Japan et cetera. Correspondingly there are a lot of podcasts in Japan to cater to people seeking to learn the Japanese language more or are interested in knowing more about the Japanese culture/ lifestyle and so on and so forth. A simple search about Japanese podcasts can result in the reader being inundated with far too many options. So, to avoid that, we’ve done the listening to help curate a list of podcasts we think provide the most unique and authentic insight into living in Japan!

    Uncanny Japan

    Uncanny Japan is undoubtedly one of the most fun and quirky podcasts out there. This podcast about Japanese traditions focuses on fun, mysterious and quirky aspects of Japan. The host selects unique traditions, superstitions, folklore, language oddities and weaves a joyous discussion around it. They discuss Japanese gods, the role of nature gods in folklore, demons, traditional beliefs, food superstitions and so on. 

    For listeners interested in knowing more about these facets of Japanese society and enjoy a little bit of that mythical trivia, this podcast is a must listen!

    Frequency: Once a month

    Episode length: 25-50 minutes 

    Link: https://uncannyjapan.com/

    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT JAPANESE SUPERSTITIONS? 

    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Superstitions for more! 

    Trash Taste

    If you’re a diehard anime fan or just getting into it - Trash Taste is a very well-known podcast about Japanese culture presented by 3 content creators who are based in Tokyo. The primary focus is on anime and Japanese pop culture. There are a lot of discussions about Japanese culture and life in Japan. Anime buffs are likely to love this one as there are extensive discussions about the role of anime in Japanese culture, the best anime, most boring anime, fandoms of anime, in addition to interviews with voiceover artists and so on. 

    The podcast addresses the ‘otaku subculture. For the uninitiated, otaku subculture is a central theme of various anime and manga related research and documentaries and fandoms. There are also frequent collaborations with guests and YouTubers to make the content more engaging and fun. 

    Frequency: Once a month.

    Episode length: Around 2 hours

    Link: https://trashtaste.com/ 

    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT POP CULTURE IN JAPAN? 

    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Pop Culture for more!

    A girl looks down and looks at her cellphone with earbuds attached as she listens to a podcast in Japan

    Japan Eats

    Foodies! Japanese cuisine is not just sushi and ramen. There are too many best-kept-secrets when it comes to Japanese dishes and this podcast about Japanese food throws invaluable light on Japanese cuisine and food culture. Hosted by Akiko Katayama, a Japanese native who is an acclaimed food-writer, this podcast focuses on Japanese gastronomy. It is truly a wonderful podcast for Japanese cuisine enthusiasts, and some of the topics include: Japanese seafood culture, sake, varieties of Japanese rice, indigenous vegetables, yakitori, okonomiyaki, an in-depth guide to ramen and so on. 

    Some of the episodes even dive into the best Japanese snacks, visiting Izakaya, a step-by-step guide to making a bento [lunchbox], the yummiest takeouts, Japanese whiskey and deliciously so on. This is a great podcast for anyone interested in really getting acquainted with the uniquely wonderful world of Japanese food beyond the California roll (which we hope you know is about as Japanese as schnitzel). 

    Frequency: Once a week

    Episode length: 45-60 minutes

    Link: https://heritageradionetwork.org/series/japan-eats 

    WANT TO COOK YOUR OWN JAPANESE FOOD? 

    Check out the 15 Staples of Japanese Cooking for some tips! 

    Sake on Air

    Carving out a niche for itself, this podcast is a one-shop stop for anything and everything related to Japanese sake. Truly fascinating and well researched, this podcast presents a wealth of information for sake enthusiasts. Presented by a team of experts, Sake on Air delves into an exploration of stories, people, and lifestyles in the sake world. Some specific topics include: the brewing process of sake, the trade, the manufacturing, the different varieties, the politics and more! 

    Frequency: Once a Month

    Episode Length: 45-60 minutes 

    Link : https://www.sakeonair.com/

    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SAKE

    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Sake Brewery for more! 

    Podcasts in Japan About Life and Work

    Japanese culture is rich and diverse, and one of the best ways to learn about this unique culture is by listening to the experiences of ordinary people living in Japan. Podcasts are a great tool to get a sense of the reality of life in Japan because you get information right from the source as people recount their real life experiences.

    Japanese With Friends

    Japanese With Friends is a podcast that discusses a broad scope of Japanese culture, covering food all the way to language. Western culture is different in many ways from Japanese culture, sometimes leading to a challenging culture shock. This podcast attempts to address this challenge and help foreigners adjust to life in Japan. The host and the interviewer dive deep into their own experiences and things they have learned while living in Japan. Some topics included in the podcast are relationships, family issues, running a business, getting an apartment, etc. Japanese With Friends is a collaborative podcast between Risu Press and Japan Switch. 

    Frequency: Once a Month

    Episode Length: 20-50 minutes

    Link: https://risupress.com/podcast/

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    Made in Japan—Conversations with Melijo Catalan     

    The host of Made in Japan wanted to steer away from usually spoken aspects of Japan’s culture, like sushi, sumo, manga and anime, while maintaining a discussion of Japanese culture. The host’s unique approach to this podcast is to interview individuals that represent very different parts of the culture. Investment bankers, DJs, chefs, sumo wrestlers and many more are invited to talk about their everyday lives.  Made in Japan attempts to shed some light on what life in Japan is like for them, including their drivers, setbacks, motivations and more! Every episode has a different guest, allowing listeners to get an idea of what life in Japan is like for different people with varying perspectives. Listening to Made in Japan is a unique way for foreigners to get an understanding of the good, the bad and the unique facets of living in the country. All of the conversations are in English, making this podcast ideal for those who are not yet speakers of Japanese! 

    Frequency: Once Every Two Weeks

    Episode Length: 45-60 minutes

    Link: https://nihongoconteppei.com/ 

    Voices in Japan

    Voices in Japan is hosted by Burke (an American who has spent 18 years in Japan) and Ben (an Englishman who has spent 13 years in Japan). Guest Speakers are invited to share experiences on traditions, dating, marriage, martial arts, pet laws, language learning and teaching in Japan. They go into detail on the positive aspects while also mentioning some of the negative aspects of Japanese society, allowing listeners to get a balanced perspective. They touch upon some very fascinating aspects of Japan which are relatively unknown, including the top five reasons to be in Japan for the long-haul, things to consider if you are marrying a Japanese woman, how to not get fired from a Japanese job, how living in Japan changes you, and many more. Another unique aspect of Voices in Japan is that it includes elaborate discussions of some of the most misconstrued and misinterpreted ideas about Japan and details the reality of each. These diverse and balanced discussions are invaluable for the internationals living in Japan who are hoping to learn more about Japan and Japanese society. 

    Frequency: Once a Week

    Episode Length: 45-60 minutes

    Link: https://www.voicesinjapan.com/ 

    Bilingual News

    Bilingual news is designed to help learners immerse themselves in Japanese through discussions of Japanese news. There are two hosts, one of which speaks in Japanese while the other speaks in English. The episodes cover discussions and news over a wide range of topics, allowing listeners to enhance their Japanese vocabulary related to different situations and scenarios. You can download the app called ‘Bilingual News: Transcripts’, and this gives you access to the transcript of each episode. Reviewing the transcript is a great way for learners to develop and improve their Japanese language skills. With a new episode coming out every week, all the important events of that week are reviewed and presented in a casual way which facilitates an effective mode for learners to get more acquainted with new words and colloquial terms. 

    Frequency: Once a Week

    Episode Length: 120-150 minutes

    Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced

    Link: https://bilingualnews.libsyn.com/

    Scaling Japan Podcast

    Do you have your own business in Japan, or have you thought about starting one? Scaling Japan Podcast features talks about how you can build and further expand your business, including tips on marketing, finance, and management of your company. Host Tyson Batino, additional host of Japanese With Friends podcast, founder of Japan Switch and One Coin English, discusses the best ways to grow your business in Japan through the lens of his personal experiences. Guest speakers are also invited to speak on their experiences and knowledge of running a business in Japan, so make sure to listen and lean into your entrepreneurial spirit!

    Frequency: Once Every Two Weeks

    Episode Length: 15-45 minutes

    Link: https://scalingyourcompany.com/podcast/

    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT BREWERIES IN JAPAN? 

    Check out our Ultimate Guide to Sake Brewery for more options!

    Two people sit around a microphone and laptop on a desk preparing to record a podcast in Japan

    Podcasts in Japan to Learn Japanese

    There are several podcasts in Japan catering to different levels of Japanese language proficiency, allowing learners to make choices according to their fluency level. What makes podcasts even more beneficial for learners is that they are not very ‘text bookish’ and do not adhere to a stringent academic format. The podcasts teach conversational style Japanese while continuing to teach the basic rules of the language. The podcasts range anywhere from three minutes to an hour, offering listeners a chance to have a lesson according to their convenience.

    Tofugu

    Tofugu is a Japanese language learning resource center which originally started out as an English blog dedicated to unraveling facets of Japanese culture. It has since become a great resource for learning Japanese. This podcast covers pertinent and fundamental topics related to the Japanese language such as は [ha] or が [ga] (covered over 3 parts)、に [ni] or で [de], よ [yo] or ね [ne], as well as tips on how to memorize words, memorize kanji, use first person pronouns properly, and so many more lessons to help improve your Japanese grammar and vocabulary! Tofugu also provides information on the appropriate context to use particular words and when certain words should not be used. Thoroughly resourceful and engaging, this podcast provides the perfect balance of knowledge and entertainment! 

    Frequency: Once a Month

    Episode Length: 45-60 minutes 

    Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate

    Link: https://www.tofugu.com/podcast/

    The Japanese Page - Nihongo no Tane with Yumi

    Beginners, rejoice! The Japanese page is exclusively designed to help beginners get acquainted with the language. The website has a lot of content that is tailored to help those looking to take the JLPT exam (N5 and N4 levels) with their Japanese grammar. The Japanese Page also runs a YouTube channel which has many videos pertaining to grammar, vocabulary, short stories for listening comprehension, and useful Japanese phrases. In addition to this, The Japanese Page has a podcast, called ‘Nihongo no Tane with Yumi,’ and it is all about useful and functional Japanese phrases and conversations. Covering a wide range of topics, this podcast is ideal for beginners and intermediate learners to improve their listening skills as the host speaks basic level Japanese at a slow pace, allowing listeners to comprehend the meaning of the spoken content. 

    Frequency: Once a Week

    Episode Length: 4-5 minutes

    Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate

    Link: ​​https://thejapanesepage.com/nihongonotane-index/

    Learn Japanese Pod 

    Learn Japanese Pod is a conversational-style podcast ideal for learners looking to sound more natural and fluent in Japanese! The founder and host Alex says, “We give lots of tips on how native speakers actually use the language rather than what your grammar teacher says is 'correct'.” This podcast discusses a variety of topics by using simple grammar structures, followed by a dissection of the conversation with English translations. It is ideal for beginners as it teaches you practical applications like ‘how to call an ambulance’? , ‘how to use provided suggestions’, ‘how to correctly use tricky verbs like くれる (kureru) correctly’, and so many more. Do not worry if you are just beginning your Japanese language journey, Learn Japanese Pod will help you out! 

    Frequency: Once a Month

    Episode Length: 45-60 minutes

    Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate

    Link: https://learnjapanesepod.com 

    Beginning Japanese Phrases - The JapanesePage.com

    This is a great podcast for beginners as the host introduces new vocabulary words and basic grammar concepts, and then provides clear examples of how to use them. Beginning Japanese Phrases also allows listeners to practice shadowing as the host enunciates every word and then pauses for the listener to repeat the correct pronunciation. This method of repeating many times after listening to a word/sentence is called shadowing and it aids in picking up natural pronunciation and developing conversation skills over time. This podcast gives you multiple layers of practice with regard to listening and speaking, and is one of the few podcasts that makes use of the shadowing method! As someone who is actively learning a language, I would recommend podcasts like this because practicing the correct way to speak is incredibly important!

    Frequency: Once Every Two Weeks

    Episode Length: 2-3 minutes

    Difficulty Level: Beginner

    Link: https://thejapanesepage.com/

    WANT TO STUDY JAPANESE EVEN MORE? 

    Check out our Guide to Japanese Study Tips to help your learning!

    Final Thoughts

    The podcast scene in Japan is huge and you can easily get overwhelmed with options. After extensive research, I have listed the best podcasts related to Japanese language and culture. I hope that Our Ultimate Guide to Podcasts in Japan proves very useful to you in learning more about the fascinating Japanese culture, better understanding Japanese society, and studying the Japanese language!

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