There is a bit of a podcast renaissance going on in Japan. The quality varies, of course, so I put together a list of the very best podcasts being made about Japan today. All of the podcasts listed below publish regularly, have solid production values, are genuinely interesting, and have something worthwhile to say about living and doing business in Japan.
Please give them a listen, and be sure to let me know if there are any other high-quality Japan-focused podcasts that you think should be included.
Japan Innovation & Startup Podcasts
- Disrupting Japan
- An fantastic source of information on startups, venture capital, and innovation in Japan. Each week, Tim Romero sits down over beers with founders and CEOs to talk about fundraising, selling to Japanese enterprises, and the social pressures of starting your own company in Japan.
- Tokyo on Fire
- If you are a Japanese policy wonk, you need to be listening to Tokyo on Fire. In short, weekly videos, Tim Langley and Michael Cucek tear apart a current event and explain what they think the Japanese press is overlooking.
- NHK World
- Even though I don’t listen to this much anymore, I feel obliged to include it for the sake of completeness. It’s the news. In English. Read to you by NHK. It is always exactly what you expect it to be.
Japanese Lifestyle Podcasts
- Just Japan
- Kevin O’Shea podcasts from Kobe, and talks about anything in Japan he finds interesting, which turns out to be a very broad range of topics. The weekly show that includes guests from all over the country as well as Kevin’s own musings about what life is like for a foreigner living in Japan.
- Japan Eats
- Everyone loves Japanese food, but if you really want to understand it you should listen to Japan Eats. Each week, New York-based food writer Akiko Katayama and her guests dive in depth into a specific Japanese dish, drink or aspect of Japanese food culture.
- Tokyo Podcast
- A wonderful slice-of-Japan podcast. Each week, Anthony Joh talks with people ranging from English teachers to crime reporters to professional wrestlers to capture the incredible diversity that is Tokyo. Anthony had put this project on hold, but he’s started putting out new episodes again.
- Uncanny Japan
- Every month Thersa Matsuura explores a different and little-known area of Japanese culture, folklore, and language. Uncanny Japan leans towards the creepy side of Japan, which is kind of a refreshing counterpoint to the cuteness that permeates modern Japanese culture.
Podcasts for Learning Japanese
- News in Slow Japanese
- Each week Sakura picks an article from the news and reads it to you twice. Once is slow Japanese and once at regular speed. It’s a great way to practice your listening skills. They don’t link to the podcast on the site, but a quick iTunes search will turn it up.
- Bilingual News
- Despite the title, this is not really a news podcast. Each week, Michael & Mami read a few current event stories in both Japanese and English and then chat about them while bouncing back and forth between the two languages. It’s perfect for making sure you can talk current events with your Japanese colleagues.
- Japanese Pod 101
- You have to buy a separate subscription if you want access to the full library of Japanese lessons and learning tools, but their free podcast and video lessons are well worth your time. A few times a week, Japanese Pod puts out lessons ranging from very beginner to intermediate levels.
Japanese History Podcasts
- History of Japan
- If you are a Japanese history buff, you probably already listen to this podcast. Even if you are not, however, you might want to give it a listen. History scholar Isaac Meyer tells stories of significant Japanese historical events and lets each tale unfold over several months.
- Samurai Archives Japanese History Podcast
- This is the official podcast of the Samurai Archives History Forum. The emphasis here is less on historical storytelling and more on a detailed analysis of specific events in Japanese history. The hosts also discuss how historical events still influence Japanese society today.
More Podcasts About Japan
- The Japan Podcast Network
- The Japan Podcast network is a curated collection of Japan-related podcasts aggregated into one place. There are a few deep dives into some Japan-specific niches. Disrupting Japan is a proud member.