The Tofugu Podcast-logo

The Tofugu Podcast

Language Learning Podcasts >

More Information


United States






How to Count Living Things (and Monsters, and Robots) in Japanese

We talk about the counters that count living things (頭, 匹, 人, and 羽) and how they overlap with each other. We also answer the hard Japanese counter questions like: can you count a robot with 人? What about a cyborg? How big can a 匹 animal be? What counter is worthy of the King of the Monsters? After you're done listening to this, learn way, way more about counters in our list of 350+ Japanese counters worth knowing:


How to Counter Anything

We talk about the counters 〜個 and 〜つ, the two counters that can count just about... anything! But, there are always going to be better counters out there for more specific things so we talk about those too. Consider this an overview on how to counter.


Becoming Famous in Japan - An Interview with Big in Japan

Find and watch the Big in Japan documentary here: We interviewed David Elliot-Jones, the writer/producer of the Big in Japan documentary. He tells us why he went to Japan with two of his friends (Lachlan Mcleod: Director, Louis Dai: Editor) to "do anything he could to become famous." Everybody thinks they can become famous in Japan. Find out the truth of it all in this interview.


Ganbaru: Do Your Best to Listen to This Podcast

For more, check out our article on ganbaru: "Do your best!" "Hang in there!" "FIGHT!" The Japanese verb 頑張る has a wide variety of English translations, and that's because it's such a nuanced word. Depending on how you say it and who you say it to, it could be an encouragement or a real downer. The Tofugu team sat down to discuss the definitions, translations, and our personal feeling about this complex word. And we really got into the weeds...


How to Use ~san, ~kun, ~sama, and All the Other Japanese Honorific Name Enders

You may already know that, in Japanese, you add a polite little something at the end of someone’s name: ~san, ~sama, ~chan, ~kun… actually, there are lot more honorific name enders than that. And there are a lot of rules for using them correctly, too. The Tofugu team discusses seven common names enders and how to use them, not to mention nine historical/obscure name enders that are good to know. For more honorific goodness, check out the article we wrote, Listenerさん:...


Rendaku: Why it's HITOBITO and not HITOHITO

Have you ever wondered why 人々 is ひとびと and not ひとひと, or even ひとぴと? Or why it’s てがみ instead of てかみ, or くさばな and not くさはな? It’s all because of a little thing called rendaku, or “sequential voicing,” which we talk about in this episode. While most Japanese teachers will just say, “it’s a mystery,” we’ll teach you the rules that make things rendaku or not, and the exceptions in between. Of course, we couldn’t explain EVERYTHING. For that, you’ll have to jump over to our very in-depth rendaku...


Counting in Japanese with Your Karate Teacher Sensei Jeff

Hi, it's me, Sensei Jeff. I'm here to teach all you white belts how to count in Japanese. Punch! Punch! Punch! (Actually, we teach you how to count from zero to uh... a mysterious number. And, we teach you how to count in the Japanese style, rather than the Chinese style that's more common. It's a pretty neat episode, despite sounding so basic. Read more about it in our article!) Featuring: Koichi, Michael, and Mami (for the first time!)


Japanese Whisky (ft. Brian Ashcraft)

Get Brian's Book, Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit → Michael and Koichi interview Brian Ashcraft–author of several Japan-related books–about his latest book, Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit. He tells us what makes Japanese whisky "Japanese" as well as what a whisky rookie should try first (and where to get it).


O Genki Desu Ka?

Read more about Genki: Everyone learns "o genki desu ka" when they begin their Japanese language education. But the truth is real people don't say it that much. So, how do you ACTUALLY use genki? We cover genki's use cases, its history, etymology, and more.


ちょっと, a Little Word That Means a Lot

Read more about ちょっと in our article: We talk about ちょっと. At first it seems like a simple, little word. But, it actually has many meanings and ways to use it. We cover most of them, I think.


Ways to Improve Your Japanese Pronunciation

In this episode we get into Japanese pronunciation. Whether you are a beginner, advanced, or fluent, you'll find something in this episode that will help you to improve your pronunciation. To read more, check out our (really in-depth) guide:


Getting Into 込む Compound Verbs

Prefer reading instead? We wrote a whole article about this (even more example sentences included!) Have you ever seen the Japanese verb 込む? On its own, it means "to be packed" or "to be crowded." But, this verb is also used in compound verbs... 255+ of them, in fact! You may have seen examples of this in your studies: 入り込む, 切り込む, 駆け込む, the list goes on and on. The problem is, the way that 込む affects the first verb (we'll call that V1)...


Podcast Updates! New Season and Secret Guests!

The Tofugu Podcast is taking a break for a couple of weeks while we prepare Season 2 of our prolific podcast and interview a special guest that is near and dear to our hearts!


How to Lead a Group of Friends Around Japan

Traveling around Japan in a large group (10 or more) may seem impossible. But let me tell you, friends, it is very possible. In fact, the Tofugu team recently went on a trip to Japan organized and led by our very own Koichi. In this episode, he tells you how he planned an weeklong international trip for 15 people. He got everything together, led everyone around, made sure everyone was taken care of—all with zero mishaps. If you dream of showing your friends Japan, listen to this episode so...


White Day, Japan's Sequel to Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day 2: PAYBACK! That should be the name of "White Day," Japan's sequel to Valentine's Day, which is exactly one month later, on March 14. But what does one do on White Day, exactly? All the gifts has been given. All the love received. What's left? Boy howdy, to understand what's going on, Koichi, Kanae, and Michael discuss how Japan's Valentine's and White Days work in tandem to create one-two marketing punch that'll embiggen your waistline and ensmallen your wallet.


Stories from Translating Final Fantasy X feat. Alex O. Smith

Friend of the podcast, Alex O Smith returns! After two decades translating video games (including many Final Fantasies), Alex has accumulated quite a few stories from inside the Japanese video game industry. Some of his excellent tales include: - The incredibly insane task of voicing every line of dialogue in Final Fantasy X. - How he basically didn't sleep for two months. - Hanging out with smokers to gain allies at Squaresoft. - How he learned to compromise with big budget directors. - And...


How to Make Friends in Japan

It's tough making friends in a new place. Different people have different ways of going about it. Throw in a culture and language barrier and it can be downright frustrating. For these reasons and more, visitors and new residents to Japan often worry about making friends. That's why the Tofugu Team got together with returning co-host Kanae (she's back!) to discuss the best ways to meet people and start friendships in Japan.


The Absolute BEST Japanese Learning Resources from 2017

Read the series: --- After a year of collecting the best Japanese learning resources every month and delivering them straight to your eyeballs, Tofugu sits down to discuss which study tools are the best of the best. We divided all the resources into six categories. Then each host (Koichi, Michael, and Kristen) picked their favs before battling it out on the podcast field! Actually, they discussed it pretty civilly, but the result is the same: you now have a definitive...


How to Get a Job at a Japanese Video Game Company feat. Ben Judd

If you want to find your way into the Japanese video game industry, there's no better example we can point to than Ben Judd, a Capcom veteran responsible for giving Phoenix Wright his English voice. But we'll do you one better than just "pointing to him." We TALKED with him for over an hour about his experience breaking into Japanese work culture, establishing himself in the video game industry, and becoming a driving force in game production. In this interview, Ben reveals some secrets to...


Tips on Passing the JET Program Interview

Learn how to ace the JET Program interview with our complete guide: --- If you want to live and work in Japan, the JET Program is one of the best ways to do it. But it's a competitive program that requires you pass a high-stress, high stakes interview with three people grilling you for thirty minutes. That's why we talked with someone who has passed an interview AND run JET interviews for four years. It's actually Tofugu's own Michael! In this episode, he and Koichi...