Is It Okay To Hate Most Japanese TV?

I always talk about how much I love Japanese TV. The brilliance, the innovation, the willingness to think outside the box, the pure and sheer fun of it all. Whenever people criticize Japanese TV, I tell them you have to give it more of a chance, find level appropriate material, and that it takes time to master the entertainment culture.

Its Okay To Hate Most Japanese TV

I still stand by this.


It’s fine to hate a large percentage of Japanese TV as long you put in the effort to find out what you do like.

“Japanese TV is garbage” is false.

“Most TV anywhere is garbage” is slightly closer to the truth.

“For you personally, most TV is garbage” is the closest to the truth.

Know what you love, Know what you hate

This isn’t something that happens immediately. It requires a commitment over time, as you are entering a completely new world of entertainment. People often make judgment too quickly, create blanket statements, and end up missing out on a massive amount of Japanese material they could be enjoying, which would make their Japanese improve that much faster.

I’m no exception. My “I love Japanese TV” is really “There is a lot of Japanese TV I really love.”

Its Okay To Hate Most Japanese TV 2

Think I have no hate? Wrong!

I hate most gourmet report shows. They make me unnecessarily hungry, they make what I eat look like nothing, the discussion bores me, and they are drawn out forever.

I hate most detective/police variety shows. The mere thought of them puts me to sleep……..

I hate most physical activity game shows. They remind me too much of the old U.S. show American Gladiator.

I hate most pure-talk shows, where there are no clips or videos edited in, and it’s just one long, long conversation.

A little love

I love travel shows, that show you the Japanese viewpoint on the world.

I love walking shows, that explore cities and towns all around Japan showing you what they have to offer.

I love comedy shows that are filled with manzai, konto, solo, and whatever other combos there are.

I love どっきり shows (hidden camera/pranks). The amount of effort that goes into them is incredible.

And this only encompasses “right now.” My loves and hates have evolved and gone back and forth over the years. Taste is not static.

Figure it all out

Its Okay To Hate Most Japanese TV 3

The above are just some select examples, but it took time to know what I like. Once you find out what you like, you can start to find out what you “really” like. I have no problem ignoring a majority percentage of TV shows. This is no different than what a native Japanese person does. Out of the dozens of new J-dramas, anime, movies, and variety shows that are released every season, most Japanese only watch a very small handful.

There is too much TV out there to enjoy everything so you might as well focus on what really entertains you. And you’ll never find that out unless you go through your TV self-exploration period. Your likes and dislikes will change over time. Embrace the freedom of choice you have.

What do you love? What do you hate?

Sometimes it’s good to get it out. What types of shows have you fallen in love with? What types of shows do you stay as far away from as possible? Let’s see some good love/hate lists!

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Is It Okay To Hate Most Japanese TV? — 26 Comments

    • Every sunday morning you have a show called お散歩 (let s walk out) it is a nice walking show to me.

    • There are two in particular that I often find myself tuning into, both on Fuji TV.

      有吉くんの正直さんぽ – walking around random restaurants and local sights, generally in Tokyo and the surrounding cities and suburbs.
      ぶらぶらサタデー – a focus more on rural areas in Kanto, the twist here being the presenters can only take buses and have to follow local bus routes with irregular timetables.

      Another is ブラタモリ on NHK, which has a more educational feel, while still retaining the Tamori charm and sense of humor.

      All are aired on Saturdays, the NHK show often gets a repeat on a weekday. Enjoy!

      Depending on where you live, you might even be able to watch a similar type of show by a local broadcaster. I recommend 元就。 from RCC, the local channel in Hiroshima. The presenters are Hiroshima natives, and nationwide stars, アンガールズ.

    • ひるブラ is good. There’s a lot of commentary and dialogue that I found useful for listening practice.

  1. Being a huge idol fan, I feel kind of spoiled when it comes to variety shows. My favorites are Akbingo, AKB48 Show, and HKT48 no Odekake. Akbingo is actually pretty fun, I’ve found many people enjoy it and is a common gateway to the AKB48 addiction. AKB48 Show has mostly skits and performances. HKT48 no Odekake has the girls going around to different spots, like shopping malls and restaurants and stuff. They can all be enjoyed even at the lowest levels, especially AKbingo with all the games they play.

    As for dramas, I’ll pretty much watch anything. I don’t usually watch detective/police shows unless there is a cute girl detective, then anything goes.

  2. Is there any Japanese SciFi TV series? So far I haven’t found any Japanese TV that I can get myself into, so I’m still looking around..

    • I think there are only Tokusatsu shows that really fill that slot. So Kamen Rider or Super Sentai or Ultraman might be something up your alley.

      • I just watched the first 5 minuttes of both Kamen Rider and Ultraman, I might actually like those, thanks :D

        • Kamen Rider W’s my favorite of the Rider shows. I like the hard-boiled detective theme and it’s overall well written and acted, even though it’s aimed toward younger audiences. Kamen Riders Kabuto, OOOs, and Kiva are all good shows too.

          I’m not much into Super Sentai stuff, but I highly highly recommend Go-Busters. They take that show places I’ve never seen another kids’ show or a lot of adult dramas go either.

    • If you like time travel stories, check out:


    • There’s なぞの転校生. I was really enjoying the first few episodes, but after that the language and story both became sufficiently complex that I couldn’t follow it. Depending on your level you might fare better.

      A number of the more popular English-language franchises (Star Trek, Stargate, Doctor Who) have had a least a few seasons dubbed into Japanese. has a pretty extensive database which can be searched via Google, for example try ‘inurl:drama “science fiction”’

      • My listening comprehension is still at a very very low level… and probably will be for a while… For English (my second language) it also took me a long time before I could enjoy anything without subtitles, even though I read and write English at a decent level. So my current approach is watching with subtitles and then listening to the audio afterwards and trying to pick out words and maybe a few sentences while listening since I already know what is going on from watching with subs.

        I will try searching Jdorama, thanks for the tip about searching with Google :D

  3. I like Arashi’s variety shows 嵐にしやがれ and VS嵐. I’ll usually watch their group appearances on other shows. As far as dramas go, anything Nino is in, most everything Ohno is in, but nothing the other members are in because I don’t like their acting.

    Non-Arashi stuff I like would be Tokusatsu stuff and mysteries, especially the heavily psychological stuff.

    I also like cooking shows, but I don’t know the names of any Japanese ones, but if anyone could help with that…

  4. My main TV thing is dramas, because I like stories and characters. I’ll watch any genre as long as there’s some quality that sticks out and the plot doesn’t get too dumb. It’s tougher for me to find good comedy stuff. I’ve heard about Downtown and their various shows, but I don’t know if there’s any Japanese equivalent to stand-up comedy specials.

    One other thing that’s really awesome is Gamecenter CX. Arino Shinya from the manzai team よゐこ sits down with an old game from the cartridge era and has to play it to completion in a little office room. He occasionally gets tips or aid from staff members and each episode is framed by a dramatic narration. They also have different segments like visiting arcades or shops with some old games in them and once in a while they do a special visit to another country.

  5. Just curious to how people keep up to date with variety shows? I managed to find some scattered around youtube/daily motion. Is there any more reliable way to acccess them. For drama and anime there are heaps of resources… hulu, netflix, crunchyroll etc. Don’t feel the same access for variety shows

    • Generally, there are communities for them, I know reddit has a couple for general varieties, if you like certain groups or celebs there are groups just for them and I think that’s where most people find their episodes.

  6. Every now and then, I like to browse from what is currently recorded as “popular” in Japan.

    For TV programs, I like:
    For music:

    It also helps to notice what merchandise people own (T-shirts, stuffed animals, trinkets, keychains, crafts, etc — in their bag, on their clothes, in their room, etc) to discover fun shows/characters/trends. You could also browse online stores to see what’s popular for sale. You could also watch some お部屋紹介/room tours (personally, I find it inspiring to see what someone of my gender and similar age enjoys). At least this is how I like to discover things. :)

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