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5 Podcasts to Help You Learn Japanese

Study Japanese on your commute, on your morning run or whenever with these five great podcasts for beginner to advanced learners.

By 4 min read

Work smarter, not harder, especially when it comes to learning Japanese. While taking a multi-faceted approach is important, it doesn’t have to be about memorizing kanji (Japanese words/characters) or practicing endless grammar. Sometimes learning involves listening, and there are many ways to do that, like watching anime and playing games or listening to music and audiobooks. But podcasts are undeniably simple and short ways to take in more Japanese.

It can be as easy as listening to one five to twenty-minute podcast a day, or you can fully immerse yourself by only listening to things in Japanese. While these podcasts offer a wide range of hosts, topics and Japanese levels, one common thread they share is that they are all excellent tools to help master a complex language.

Here are five of the best for lower to intermediate-level Japanese learners.

1. NHK World Japan & NHK Daily News Podcast

NHK is the nation’s leading go-to news broadcast for Japanese people and foreigners. So naturally, it is an excellent podcast for keeping up with news in Japanese that is clear and easy to understand.

The Daily News Podcast features international headlines in immersive Japanese, which may initially seem overwhelming for a beginner. But it’s useful for any level, up to advanced learners, and you’ll start hearing your comprehension improve in real-time.

As language skills grow, listeners stay challenged.

In addition to the news in Japanese, there are podcast episodes geared to specific levels on the NHK World Japan site, with topics like getting a job, shopping, and life in Japan. And if all of that is still too much like diving into the deep end, NHK also offers a website with easy Japanese lessons, perfect for beginners just starting.

2. Bilingual News

Listening and speaking are just as essential as reading.

Hosted by Mami and Michael, the two have an entire conversation with each other while discussing current news. Mami speaks Japanese, while Michael speaks English. This makes it easy to follow along. As language skills grow, listeners stay challenged since the hosts don’t translate for each other.

It can be challenging to understand what Mami is saying as a beginner, so hearing Michael’s English makes it easier to digest. It’s also a great podcast to listen to with Japanese friends, family, or partners because it can help them learn English simultaneously.

3. Learn Japanese Pod

This podcast is designed for absolute Japanese beginners and is a good starting point for anyone traveling in Japan. Some topics covered include key travel sentences and discussing your hobbies. The podcast delivers several short Japanese conversations with three hosts, and the hosts will later break down the conversations in English. Transcriptions are available for each episode in English and Japanese, so it’s great for zeroing in on any words or phrases you want to study.

4. The Miku Real Japanese Podcast

Most podcasts here and generally for learning Japanese tend to run on the shorter side, which is excellent for many reasons (and attention spans). That said, sometimes a longer podcast is ideal, especially if you are interested in the topic!

For that reason, YouTuber and podcaster Miku is another top choice since many of her episodes tend to run around 30 minutes long. She even has many shorter ones, perfect when you don’t have much time but still want to squeeze in some studying. What makes her podcasts stand out is that they are well-produced.

Miku regularly hosts guests, which means hearing a lot of very natural conversations. Her podcast is aimed at intermediate learners who want to learn how to have natural conversations and dive deeper into Japanese culture.

5. Japanese with Shun

This is an excellent podcast for anyone, but Japanese with Shun is the perfect accompaniment for studying with the Genki 1 & 2 textbooks. Shun covers the texts’ grammatical material, giving a Japanese perspective on music festivals, hairstyles, crime, friendship and much more. Shun has made a podcast that’s a perfect base for beginners with short 5 to 10-minute episodes where he speaks slowly, clearly and with a relaxed intonation.

He pauses just enough to sound natural but gives the listener time to reflect on what they’ve heard or write down any unfamiliar vocabulary. With over 180 episodes up so far, Shun has provided a great resource to listen to a range of topical conversational points in Japanese to boost any beginner’s comprehension.

What is your favorite way to learn Japanese? Know a podcast that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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