There is a podcasting renaissance going on in Japan today. The quality varies, of course, so I put together a list of the very best podcasts being made about Japan today, and I do my best to keep it up-to-date. 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.
- Japan Times: Deep Dive
- A great conversational and informative dive into the stories behind Japan’s headlines. The Japan Times is one of the oldest sources of English-language information about Japan, and it’s great to see them moving into podcasting.
- 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
- 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.
- 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 about 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 the 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.
Even More Podcasts About Japan!
When I first starting maintaining this list, I actually listened to all of the English-language podcasts about Japan. However, since independent podcasting has grown so much in Japan, I can’t possibly keep up with them all. I don’t want to leave anyone out, so I’ve extended my Japan-podcast list to include podcasts that I don’t listen to regularly, but that are created by people passionate about their subject, and that have been recommended to me by podcast fans in Japan
With so many new independent podcasts being created (and abandoned) all the time, I’ll need your help to keep this list current. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked anyone.
- Abroad in Japan
- Abroad in Japan is the podcast companion to one of the biggest English-language YouTube channels in Japan. It features Chris Broad’s sarcastic take on life in Japan.
- Got Faded Japan
- Johnny and his friends get drunk and talk about Japanese events, music, and sub-culture. Got Faded Japan was one of the first English-language podcasts about Japan and is still going strong after more than 10 years.
- Inside Japan
- Originally called the ALTInisder, James rebranded to reflect the range of topics he covers. There is a lot of English-instruction-related content, the show also covers culture and current events.
- Japan 2.0
- David and Matt are two friends that seem to have a great time podcasting about Japan’s pop-culture, little-known festivals, and off-the-wall fashion trends.
- Learn Japanese Pod
- Alex started podcasting as he was learning Japanese to share his journey to fluency. He and his Japanese friends team up to help others learn Japanese and to share tips he wishes someone had shared with him.
- Tofugu is one of the biggest Japanese-language learning sites out there, so it was only a matter of time until they expanded to podcasting. Lots of mini-lessons and practical advice on speaking everyday Japanese.
- 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. Tim seems to be taking some time off. Hopefully, he’ll release some new episodes in 2020.
- Tokyo Speaks
- This podcast introduces you to a wide cross-section of Japan’s international community. There are interviews with entrepreneurs, artists, social advocates, salarymen. and people are still trying to figure out who they are. Early episodes were recorded in the back of the host’s 1999 Chevy Van, but the podcast has a more fixed address these days.
- Voices in Japan
- Podacasting from (usually) snowy Sapporo, Burke and Ben talk about what it’s like to live in Japan. They talk about work, studying Japanese, customs, holidays, traditions, and anything else that comes to mind in their weekly show.