The best podcasts about Japan in 2016

Tim Romero

The content of this article first appeared on Disrupting Japan. It has been reproduced by The Bridge with the approval of Disrupting Japan and the article’s author Tim Romero.

Tim is a Tokyo-based entrepreneur, podcaster and author who has started four companies and led Japan market entry for others since coming to Japan more than 20 years ago. Tim hosts the Disrupting Japan podcast and is deeply involved in Japan’s startup community as an investor, founder and mentor.

Speak into the Mic. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Alan Levine

There is a bit of a podcast renaissance going on in Japan. The quality varies, of course, so I put together this 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 high-quality Japan-focused podcasts that you think should be included.

Japanese Lifestyle Podcasts

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.

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.

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. Sadly, Anthony has put this project aside, but the back-episodes are well worth listening to.

Japanese Business & News Podcasts

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.

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.

Even though I don’t listen to this much any more, 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.

Podcasts for Learning Japanese

Despite the title, this is not really a news podcast. Each weak, Michael & Mami read a few current event stories in both Japanese and English and then chat about them while bouncing back and fourth between the two languages. It’s perfect for making sure you can talk current events with your Japanese colleagues.

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

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.

This is the official podcast of the Samurai Archives History Forum. The emphasis here is less on historical storytelling and more on detailed analysis of specific events in Japanese history. The hosts also discuss how historical events still influence Japanese society today.