Last time I described how to grace your computer with podcasts in Japanese, even if you (like me) live outside of Japan.
Now I’d like to share some of my favourites. These are the ones that make me sort of look forward to Sunday night (new episodes usually come out when it’s Monday morning in Japan) instead of merely dreading the start of another work week. Even though they’re entirely in Japanese (no subtitles), after watching/listening to them over and over again, I am starting to understand what’s going on.
Anyway, here’s my top five, in reverse order (Letterman style):
If you’re up to speed on your katakana, you’ve worked out that this is NHK Radio News. Which is boring, right? I mean, radio news, come on.
Well, this was the very first Japanese podcast I got into, mostly because I could easily work out that it was the news. As a direct result, some of the very first Japanese words I could hear and understand were “ロンドンオリンピック” (it was summer). It’s very nice to have on in the background, and they come out with 5 or 6 episodes a day, so there’s never an excuse for not listening to Japanese.
(Another word I quickly learned was 原発…yeah, they need to use that one a lot these days in Japanese news…)
4. 大杉漣の「漣☆写でGO！+(プラス)」- Video
This one wasn’t so easy to work out what was going on, even though it’s a video podcast. As far as I can tell, a guy in a hat walks around a city that’s probably Tokyo with a hand-held sat nav and a photograph, and he has to find the image from the photograph in real life.
Only he spends most of his time aimlessly wandering, going in shops and looking at things, speaking to shop owners and advertising their wares for them, and making the cameramen laugh. Sometimes a very large woman turns up with additional information. Then a loud commercial for the sat nav happens.
Bizarre. Again, loads of episodes. I watch them while I’m studying kanji, and then I look up and there’s kanji on the screen, and when I recognise them I get a warm fuzzy feeling.
3. SUNTORY SATURDAY WAITING BAR AVANTI
When it isn’t being featured in Sofia Coppola films, this whiskey puts out a 10-minute or so podcast every Saturday. It starts with a couple of guys in a bar having a drink, and then they talk to someone else about something (I don’t know what – give me a break, it’s in Japanese, all right?). The background sounds are great – lots of jazz and glasses clinking and more jazz. About six years of episodes are currently available.
It’s like listening to the news, if the news were happening in a bar.
2. 週刊！NIPPONちびっこランド – Video
Oh, Nippon Chibikko Rando, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Kids television. Apparently, I never grew out of it. I love this show so much. Each episode is about 15 minutes long (the average attention span of a 5 year old). A bunch of people act out Japanese sayings to explain them at child level, and then there are cartoons. And then some kids go out into a rice field or a shop and learn how to do manual labour. Then there are more cartoons. And a song. And then it all happens again the following week.
They have a different series for every season. At the time of writing, it’s about 3 episodes into あき. But I still have なつ and はる stored on my computer (春 was my favourite!). I watch them over and over again, and then rip the audio onto my iPod, and listen to them over and over again. Complete heaven.
And now, at long last…
1. シークレットガールズseason2 – Video
Oh boy oh boy. This podcast shows the exploits of Secret Girls, a manufactured girl band whose sole purpose seems to be to sell things to the audience and learn English. The songs are mediocre, the acting is worse, and the lip synching is a complete disaster.
Nevertheless. I. Love. This. Show. I guess it’s in an ironic way. Like how the original Star Trek episodes are epically amazing at the same time as being, let’s face it, a little bit crap (But I still love you, Captain Kirk!)
My biggest complaint is that they seem to release only one episode per month, which is in no way acceptable. How can this rubbish take that long to make? I’m desperate to know what happens with the Secret Girls and their arch-rivals, 3ign (pronounced “sign”) who dress all in black and are actually evil (while, at the same time, being much better dancers).
Have I missed any? What are your favourites?