Finding Yourself some Great Podcasts

Japanese podcasts are created in abundance throughout all of Japan, and while probably intended by their creators for a Japanese audience, provide an incredibly wide range of entertainment for Japanese learners. They will become your best friends because you can use them for just about any occasion. They make great background noise for reading, and they’re nice when you want something relaxing to listen to. They don’t take up much space, either. I have an iPod Shuffle stuffed with over thirty hours of Japanese podcasts.

But the best part is that they’re all free!

Like it or not, iTunes is unquestionably the best place to find Japanese podcasts. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to switch your iTunes store region to Japan. On the bottom of whatever page you’re on in the iTunes store, you’ll see a flag at the bottom-right (probably of the country you’re in). Click on that and change in to Japan’s flag.

Once you’ve done that, click on “Podcasts” at the top of the page. Jackpot! Here you’ll find enough podcasts to last you for the rest of your life.

Podcasts galore!

Downloading them is pretty simple. Once you click on the podcast you’d like, you can either download the episodes you like individually or hit the big “subscribe” button to always have the latest episode downloaded for you. If you like the podcast, the subscribe feature can be very useful. Once you download it, you can find it tucked away in the podcasts section of your iTunes.

If you’re stupid like me and still don’t understand much Japanese, you’re probably not too picky about what you listen to. You just want exposure to a lot of Japanese. Personally, I just download the ones with the cute girls on the cover. Try a few different ones and delete the ones with the annoying voices.

If you’re able to understand a bit more than me, you’ll probably want to be a little more selective. iTunes has lots of categories of podcasts, so pick what piques your interest. Like comedy? Download a few from there. Take an interest to sports? There’s a bunch in that category, too. You can even find a few good audio dramas if you look hard enough (look under “hobbies” or do a search for オーディオドラマ). Just make sure that it’s worth listening to.

I can’t really recommend many myself because I still can’t understand much of them. But if you’re looking for a good kick in the pants to get you started, I’d suggest reading through this awesome list by Nuriko. Most of the podcasts on the list you can find in iTunes. If you’re looking for something appropriate to your level, he also includes the “ease” for most of the podcasts so you can tell if you’ll be able to understand any of it.

The only bad part about iTunes is that they usually don’t have all the episodes of a given podcast (no episodes from long ago), so if you’re a big fan of a specific podcast and want to catch ‘em all, you’ll probably have to look through the podcast’s website (which is usually locatable with a Google search or two).

So what good Japanese podcasts have you found?
Written by: Eric

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A writer for Japanese Level Up, a part-time graphic designer, and purveyor of fine Japanese art (which consists mostly of anime, manga and weird music). When he's not wasting time in Japanese, you can usually find him making pretty pictures or studying something that sounds interesting.


Finding Yourself some Great Podcasts — 7 Comments

  1. I have immersion MP3 player (two actually), but mostly have anime audio on it, plus some songs. As I’m still at a low level, I try to find things that I can watch/listen to first to get an understanding of it. That allows me to listen to it later and visualize the scenes in my mind. Unfortunately, this means I tend to use subtitles the first time through, but then that’s it.

    I look forward to the day that I can watch/listen without ever using subtitles, but my journey through Japanese is very slow.

    • I use audio from videos I’ve watched and audiobooks of books I’ve read when I want something to actively listen to, but when I’m doing other things and just need some background noise for passive listening, I turn on a podcast. I imagine that will change as I begin to understand more of the language, though.

  2. I absolutely agree, podcasts are great! Though since I’m also in the “can’t understand much spoken Japanese” boat I tend to look for podcasts with pleasant voices. I’ve subscribed to some on Nuriko’s list, a few others I’ve found are:

    杏のAnytime Andante. Short-ish monologues by a woman on a wide variety of topics, from shonen manga to winter sports.

    Sound Library. A woman with a lovely, gentle voice tells lovely, gentle stories. The topics seems to be everyday-life sorts of things (though, for all I know she could be talking about how much she likes punching puppies…)

    Music Hyper Market. This seems to primarily be about promoting certain artists, each episode will feature a couple of short excerpts and occasionally they’ll do a countdown, although I have no idea what list they’re counting down from. The music tends to fit broadly into the “pop” category, although some is jazzier, some slightly heavier rock, etc. Mostly however the show is the navigators chatting about various things. The male navigator, Sascha, is apparently fluent in German and English as well as Japanese. He also does a killer Yoda impersonation, although this doesn’t come up often. Anyway, I really like this one just for how much fun they always seem to be having.

    Not strictly a podcast, but I like Nakajima Megumi’s シンカロン youtube-cast. It’s primarily promotion for her albums but that’s fine by me (I’d actually purchased several of the anime themes she’s done before I realized they were all by the same person!)

    Finally, for any AKB48 fans, Tomomi Kasai and Tomomi Itano had a podcast called ともとものヤギさん、おいで~♪. Most episodes contain some chatting, reading and responding to a few fan letters, and a short comedy skit. The last episode was in 2010, but the RSS feed is still up, and so far as I can tell all the MP3s are as well.

    • Thank you for sharing the resources! I find it’s really hard to find Japanese podcasts that are not for Japanese learners.

  3. 虚構新聞ニュース
    This podcast is not for beginners, but it is entertaining.
    It’s kind of like a Japanese version of The Onion, though with less social commentary and more stupid jokes and puns.

  4. Sound Libary is fantastic! I have listened to four of the stories so far and it is quite soothing. I am only half-listening, as it is background sound while I work, but I pick out the odd word, sentence or context and find it to be easy to listen to and to understand (what little I do pick up with my limited Japanese comprehension thus far). Recommended. ^^

  5. I really want to give 「今日の猫ちゃん」 a shot as it sounds amazing (and I quote: The creator is a man who turns the diary he wrote about his cats into miniature little dramas), but it seems to have disappeared from the internet.

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