Here in Japan, the coronavirus situation is changing by the day. On April 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially announced a state of emergency until May 6th, but Japan still has no law that can legally enforce closures or curfews. Prefectural governors are politely asking citizens to stay home, businesses are open at their own discretion, and public transportation in most cities is running as usual.
With golden week coming up, many are speculating that the state of emergency will be extended. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but it’s likely we will still be stuck inside for a little while longer.
Last week, our host Anthony offered a list of his favourite movies set in Japan, to help you ease the boredom of quarantine. This week, he discusses his favourite podcasts in Japan. The list is longer, so we’ve grouped everything into four categories: business podcasts in Japan, podcasts on living in Japan, podcasts for learning Japanese, and podcasts about Japanese culture.
Japanese Business Podcasts
Disrupting Japan with Tim Romero
In this podcast, which mostly focusing on the startup scene in Japan, host Tim Romero interviews a wide range of CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs based in Japan.
Small Business Japan with Josh Smith
Hosted by Joshua M. Smith who spent 13 years in Japan running various different kinds of small businesses. Our host Anthony is particularly fond of any podcast about small business, as he was a small business owner himself. He believes everyone should go through the experience of owning a small business, because it can teach us many things about ourselves, business, relationships, people, and more.
Business and Beers Japan with Andrew Hankinson
Hosted by long time resident Andrew Hankinson, talks with other interesting and successful business executives with extensive Japan experience in Japan from various bars around Tokyo.
Deep Dive by the Japan Times
News focussed biweekly podcast that will go behind the headlines, focusing both on what’s trending and what matters in Japan.
Podcasts About Living In Japan
One advantage of podcasts is that the content is generally more in-depth, honest, and genuine compared to, for example, YouTube videos or blog posts. True to form, these podcasts on living in Japan offer genuine insight into what it’s really like to live here. Our host, Anthony Joh, sums it up best:
If you want to learn about the fantasy of living in Japan, YouTube is great. If you want to learn about the reality of living in Japan, podcasts are great.
From working to daily life to partying and everywhere in between, these podcasts all share the same mission—to bring listeners real accounts of what it’s like to live in Japan.
Podcasts for Learning Japanese
These two podcasts are likely the first you’ll find when searching for Japanese language learning podcasts. Both have an enormous library of content, but require paid subscriptions to access.
While we can’t speak to the quality of their paid content, their free content is very good, so it’s safe to assume these are good bets if you’re willing to drop a bit of money on improving your Japanese.
Tofugu is another big name you’ll likely come across on your search for learning Japanese language or Japanese culture. Tofugu has been around for a long time—at least since 2007 when they released their first video on YouTube—so their long-lasting popularity is a sign of good quality. The Tofugu podcast offers a huge amount of content on language, culture, history, and all things Japan.
Let’s begin with something from the weirder, darker side of Japanese culture. Uncanny Japan and Kowabana are two podcasts that cover Japanese mythology, horror, and folklore, topics which are surprisingly rich in content. Demons, ghosts, murder, the afterlife—these podcasts offer more of the creepy side of Japanese culture and history.
This podcast is recommended for those of you interested in Japanese cuisine. Japan Eats is a great podcast series for learning more about Japanese food as well as how to prepare it.
As rich as the subject of Japanese sake is, there is a surprisingly low number of podcasts about it. Sake on Air is a series about all things sake, and we hope it will bring more knowledge of sake to the world. If you love sake or are interested in learning more, you’ll love this podcast.
Bilingual News and Konnichiwa Podcast are two podcasts follow the same format of having two hosts—one speaking Japanese and one speaking English—and discussing the same topics in both Japanese and in English.
One difference between the two is that Konnichiwa Podcast started more recently and is updated more often than Bilingual News, so their content is more fresh. Both podcasts are great for improving your Japanese listening skills by hearing the content in Japanese and English, back to back.
This podcast is more for intermediate Japanese language learners and above. The concept is simple—each episode has two versions of the same newscaster reporting the same news story, once slow, and once at a normal pace. News in Slow Japanese is great for polishing your Japanese listening skills and learning daily news at the same time.
Another niche podcast, this one covering baseball in Japan. Baseball is a game built for commentary, so there is naturally a lot of content in this series. If you’re a fan of Japanese baseball, you’ll appreciate the rich content. If you’re interested in learning about Japanese baseball, start with last week’s Mr. Baseball movie recommendation, then give Japanese Baseball Weekly a listen.
Japanese literature has a surprisingly large cult following. The host, Amy Chavez (whom we had as a guest on Tokyo Podcast Episode 31, “Japan Funny Side up”), offers reviews, critiques, and interviews covering literature not only in Japan but all of Asia.
We hope you’ve found something from this list that will add to your knowledge about doing business in Japan, living in Japan, and Japanese culture. If you have any more recommendations, we’d love to hear from you—send us a message using the contact link. We’ll see you next week.