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.
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
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.