You’ve probably heard a lot about immersion by now and why it’s good for you. Once you start filling your head with Japanese, good music becomes a precious commodity. Unfortunately, finding new Japanese music can be pretty hard to do if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. But, with that being said, there are several good (and quite legal) ways for you to find some free Japanese music.
My personal favorite place to find good music is Last.FM. Last.FM is an internet radio service that allows you to create your own stations. It’s pretty simple. All you need to do is type in a genre or tag (like Japanese) and it’ll start playing. As it is a radio, it doesn’t give you much control, but if it gets a bit too eclectic, you can narrow your selections by adding multiple genres or tags (like Japanese, rock, electronic, etc.).
If you’d rather hear music similar to an artist you already like, type in the artist’s name and it’ll find you music from that artist plus some other good music just like it. If you’d like a little more control over your music, you can skip or ban tracks you don’t like and “love” tracks you do like to teach Last.FM your musical tastes. Over time, Last.fm will be able to give you more consistent results. Unfortunately, they’re a bit racist, so if you aren’t lucky enough to live in the US, UK, or Germany, you’ll have to pay to use the radio (in some countries, you won’t be able to use it at all).
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, there are plenty Japanese-playing stations you can tune into. If all you’re looking for are some good 24/7 J-Pop stations, iTunes has a few good ones. Under the Radio section, open the “international” category, scroll down to the J’s and you’ll find a few of them.
But if you’d like something more authentic, my favorite place to find radio fresh from Japan is TuneIn. There are hundreds of stations you can listen to and you’re bound to find one you like. I’ll be honest, though… it is harder to find a good station there than it is in iTunes. Another good listing is サイマルラジオ.
While listening to random music is always fun, if you’d like control over your music selection, YouTube is probably your best bet. YouTube may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of music, but over the years, YouTube has built up a good stash of music as well as videos. I’m not just talking about music videos, either. There are people all over the world who upload entire albums of great music onto YouTube. My favorite thing about looking for music on YouTube is the sheer volume of music there. You’ll nearly always be able to find what you’re searching for.
YouTube wasn’t exactly designed for music, though, so it’s pretty disorganized, but you can organize your music into playlists if you have a YouTube account. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take a look at other’s playlists (I suggest searching for your favorite genre + “Japanese”) if you’d like to find some new music.
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.