What better way to socialize with Japanese people than the ol’ idiot box?

The best TV shows in Japan to study Japanese

By Marie Meg

There is a reason Japanese TV is stereotyped as being bad. Out of the nine free channels available to the public, only two are remotely educational. They’re also quite dull. Beyond kids shows, you have three choices: News, dramas and talking-head variety shows.

However, I like to think of Japanese television like it’s a fine wine. I consume it in moderation or on special occasions. It’s also not a bad way to study conversational Japanese and learn about Japanese culture and current trends. Want to give it a try yourself, but don’t know where to begin?

Well, tune in, because here are the best Japanese TV shows to watch to study Japanese.

Japanese TV shows for beginners

If your Japanese level isn’t very high, the last thing you want to do is burn out on the news. You’ll get easily discouraged as you will only pick up a few words from what is said. What you need is something flashy and casual.

Why Did You Come to Japan?

"Why Did YOU Come to Japan?" (YOUは何しに日本へ?) features Osamu Shitara and Yuki Himura, the comedy duo known as Bananaman, as presenters, and follows foreigners met straight from the airport through their activities in the country. You’ll meet an incredible range of people who all have one thing in common: a passion for Japan.

This is excellent for beginners because most of the people interviewed will speak simple Japanese. If they don’t, you’ll still hear their English without a Japanese voice over and will be able to read the translation in Japanese on-screen. Due to this year’s travel ban, the show quickly switched to showcasing foreigners living in Japan, searching for them on the streets.

Mondays at 7 p.m. on TV Tokyo

Click here to read more.

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4K walking videos and travel videos in Japan on Youtube are all better than those Japanese TV channels for learning Japanese culture and language.

Japan Walk TV

Tokyo Explorer

Japan BackpackersXpress


Anna Film Production

Nippon Wandering TV

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I watched Japanese TV when I was studying Japanese but it was turning my brain to mush.

Go with textbooks and classes.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

You need to hear the language spoken, that's for sure. Not being able to do that under normal everyday conditions is one of the major drawbacks with trying to learn Japanese outside the country, and watching TV video or movies can be a good alternative, up to a point (the point where you can't talk back). The 4K walking videos are great visually (esp. Rambalac and Nippon Wandering) but there's virtually no talking except for scraps of conversation heard from passersby.

Anyway, whenever I get back to Japan (next year?) I'll watch Matsuko (in the link) or whoever on telly and I'll learn something new every day, I promise.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

TV news is a bear except for weather. Detective dramas are a great way to study the language.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Get a ‘Japanese’ ‘Skype’ teacher today IF you’re not presently in Japan.

They need to make mone¥ now! and will appreciate your ca$h. Most importantly, They are interactive.

Agree with @Jimizo 8:05a JST ‘Go with textbooks & classes’.

and @BigYen 8:35a JST ‘You need to hear the language spoken, under normal everyday conditions’.

Japanese Television is nothing but ‘over-the-top’, exaggerated behavior: “Hahaha, omoishiroi!”. Again & again.

Here’s their lesson: Listen and Repeat: “Sugoi!...Oishiiso!...”...

Don’t waste time. Learn the kana ‘on your own. Then, Start reading it today.

Your Japanese teacher will talk you thru the basic kanji. You can build from there.

And finally, ...there is ‘Nothing practical or useful for everyday language’ to be learned from manga or anime other than entertainment.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Yes...‘YOU’ is entertaining (and, sometimes, embarrassing.) You can find ‘Classic ‘YOU’ episodes on Wed night @ Channel BS 4.

Btw: Which ‘two’ channels @MarieMeg ? Re:*“Out of the 9 free channels avail to the public, only 2 are remotely educational.’*

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Some dramas are OK, depending on your taste. A friend told me there are some streaming sites where you can watch current and old dramas with subtitles that fans have put on, but I wouldn't know anything about that. Apparently the subs are of varying quality, but do help with learning. So I've heard.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We agree with @SandyBeachHeaven (This time... : )Detective Dramas” like “Aibou” (“Partners’(?) are slow-paced enough to follow the story and catch some dialogue. They ‘re-enact the crime’ and always ‘get a confession’ (*without first putting the suspect in jail for 21 days without an attorney’ *; ).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Go with textbooks and classes.

I found the best way to learn Japanese is by making friends that don't speak English. They view you as a person and not someone to leech English off of. Texting is how I learned most of the Japanese I know.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Cartoons and shows for kids are great. I learned Japanese with Totoro and Sento Chihiro.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When I arrived in Japan, I landed in Aomori. It was hard with my basic Japanese, because the area I lived in used tsugaru dialect. Basically I didn't understand anyone. But that helped me to speed up learning standard Japanese. Then I moved to Nagoya and 30 years ago, it was pretty much anyone except young people = nagoyaben. Despite not being so horrible like tsugaruben, it was still challenging. But again, that helped me to learn more quickly.

Don't stay in Tokyo, go somewhere where they normally use a weird dialect. Your ward office may offer dirt cheap Japanese lessons (not the best one, but hey, it's cheap and better than nothing). And forget Japanese TV. There are maybe two shows which may help you learn Japanese, but that's like finding a needle in a haystack. It's more like a waste of time. Use various youtube channels, or just watch Netflix in Japanese + subtitles. Definitely better than Japanese TV. Japanese TV sums up like this: わー、うまー;わー美味しそう;へええええ;すげー;たべたーい;かっこいー;可愛い;hahahahaha; and obsession with kansaiben and Kansai area in general.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Turn OFF the TV!

“What better way to socialize with Japanese people than TV?”

‘Go out to a park’, ‘bring your dog’; toss a frisbee to a passing stranger’,...kick a ball’ around; ...

Better yet, ‘Go camping’ and do All of the above.

There, you can ‘share Your food’ and practice @RobertCikki’s 11:20a JST recommendations:

Wah!, ..Umai!, ..wa Oishisaou!, ..Ehehhhhh??, ... Sugeh!! ..Tabetai!!, ...Kakkoi!!, and, Kawaii!!

All the Japanese you need to make friends! -
-1 ( +2 / -3 )

When I was learning in college, I watched all the music shows they had available, it helped a bit, especially for karaoke.

All the good stuff, utaban, Hey3, CDTV, Pop Jam, music station, etc etc..........

But they've since taken off the good shows, I'm not even sure what is left on TV anymore. I've just been watching streaming services for the last few years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When I came to Japan, I kept the TV on all the time, even if I wasn't watching it, as background noise w/ Japanese constantly going into my ear. It helped my listening comp and pick up the rhythm of the language which is very important.

Weather reports (comes with accompanying pictures), kid shows, music shows (lot of the songs have subtitles as they're singing), and whatever you're really into - mine was movies and watched hundreds of J-movies.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Enka TV shows are great for studying kanji. The pace is slow and there is much repetition.

Plus, the music, gesture, and outfits are hilarious.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Terrace House on Netflix.

Good conversational Japanese.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Normally TV would help a lot with learning any language, but the quality of TV here really is lacking. You know what they say. When I first came here, I didn't watch TV because I didn't understand what they were saying. Now I don't watch TV because I do understand what they're saying.

I've tried, but god, are the dramas so slow - I ended up watching South Korean dramas.

However, I like quiz shows in general. I used to watch Attack 25 (the only quiz show with ordinary people using their brains, and not tarentos). Before that, Shinkon-san irasshai is a bit of a laugh, but I have to say, there's a lot of dirty adult talk for a Sunday afternoon show. Also Nepu-League's quiz how at 7pm is good practice for kanji and other stuff - it's great to know a kanji which the tarento doesn't.

Other than that, there are resources on Youtube. Glad I sold my TV years ago. Not worth the hassle

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not a single foreign person in the video above were of average weight or thinner. It's embarrassing to see so many overweight people as the new norm. It's unhealthy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That’s the Bad aspect of ‘YOU?’ and other “foreigners of interest’ shows in Japan:

The ‘producers’ think they’re clever in finding and showcasing obese and/or quirky ‘outsiders’.

Cut and dry: It’s mockery (the weakest form of what some Japan comedians(?) think is good ‘humor(?).

Parody and ‘self-deprecating’ humor, like Ayaka Imoto, while traveling in other countries, is more respectable.

So, thanks @Speed 7:07p JST. We’ll rescind our 9:18a post: ‘YOUwas entertaining, at first.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sunday at 6pm BS Channel 12. "Hawaii no koishite". The girl Sasha translates almost everything spontaneously.

Monday 9pm BS CHannel 6 Yoshida RUi in Sakeba... great for conversation and food. He gets buzzed so the slurring will help you as well.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

TV is a waste of time, in any culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agreed: “GottaLuvThatSasha!”,(Wow! That’s 2 +’s from us Today @Sandy!)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like some family dramas and comedies. Also, read your news in English then move over to Yahoo Japan or another JP new site and you can easily pick up new vocabulary from the news that you already read in English.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even the writer calls JTV an “idiot box”.  Since they’re poking fun at ‘Fat Aussies” with ‘YOU’s clip, let’s look closer at the top photo: They’re probably watching Sekai Marumie TV, “The World Exposed” with unfunny, abusive and sadistic, Kitano ‘Beat’ Takeshi.  Nobody’s learning ANY Japanese there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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