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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...


Answering Your Own Questions About Japanese

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll stop emailing you about free fish." - Koichi (probably) Learning Japanese on your own can be challenging. Especially when you need clarification about abstract concepts, how to pronounce kanji, and how native speakers use certain words. We're here to show you that you can answer your specific questions about Japanese. Kristen and Michael discuss different methods to answering questions that will arise while...


The Challenge of Bringing Japanese Rock to America feat. Robby Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls

Running a record label that brings Japanese rock music to the US is not easy. But if anyone can do it, it’s Robby Takac, the bassist for the Goo Goo Dolls. He knows the ins-and-outs of the music industry pretty well; his band has double and triple platinum records and a globetrotting tour schedule. We talked to Robby about his record label, Good Charamel, which produces albums for Japanese bands like Pinky Doodle Poodle, the MOLICE, and Osaka-based punk rock institution Shonen Knife. He...


Learning Japanese and Secret Ways to Visit Japan: Advice from Loretta "Kemushichan"

YouTuber Loretta "Kemushichan" has been making videos about Japan and the Japanese language for over 10 years now. And because of her expertise, we asked her to write an article for us (which you can read here: and invited her on the Tofugu Podcast to drop some knowledge bombs. Knowledge bombs liiiiiiike... - The secrets she used to discover hidden exchange programs and other free ways to live in or visit Japan. - The study methods she used to get her spoken...


How to Learn Japanese with Anime (And Why Maybe You Shouldn't)

Resources for learning Japanese we talk about in this episode: - Using SRS to Learn Japanese: - How to Study Japanese with Sentences: - Language Shadowing: === "You can learn Japanese from anime!" You’ve probably seen promises like these floating around the Internet. Maybe you’ve secretly hoped they’re true. We’re here to tell you THEY ARE TRUE! But just because you CAN learn Japanese from anime, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD....


The Lifestyle Behind Japanese Clothing Brand Kiriko

There’s a clothing brand here in Portland that Koichi is a big fan of. It’s called Kiriko. What makes Kiriko special? The company makes clothing out of reclaimed Japanese fabric, some of it over 100 years old. But more important, they promote taking time to appreciate simplicity and quality. That’s why they sell more than just clothing; ceramics, coffee makers, backpacks. You could make an entire Kirko life. And that’s what we talked about with Kiriko’s founder, Katsu. We wanted to know what...


Foreigner Forgiveness: What Happens When You Screw Up in Japan

When visiting or living in Japan, you may be worried about making mistakes: speaking informally to a superior, using chopsticks awkwardly, or bowing at the wrong degree. Things like this cause a lot of anxiety for foreigners in Japan. But we’re here to tell you about foreigner forgiveness. Basically, don’t worry so much. But on the other hand, don’t not worry enough. Some foreigners stretch this goodwill thin by taking advantage of peoples’ kindness for their own benefit. That’s not so...


Tofugu Answers 50 of YOUR Questions: The Tofugu Podcast 50th Episode Special

We’ve been doing this Tofugu Podcast thing for 50 episodes now (hooray!) so we decided to celebrate by answering listener questions. We asked you for your most burning questions and you sent us a ton! We picked the 50 best and sat down to answer them all in one fantastic podcast episode. I’m sure after this, all your questions about Japan, Japanese language, and Tofugu will be answered forever. Sure, this means the end of the Tofugu Podcast, but that’s a small price to pay for unlimited...


Visiting Tokyo’s Festival and Drum Museum

Read more about Japanese festivals here: There’s nothing better than a Japanese festival. Drums, mikoshi, dancing, food. It’s a magical experience. But Japanese festivals don’t just "happen." They take a lot of hard work and equipment. And some of the best festival equipment comes from a 150 year old shop in Tokyo called Miyamoto Unosuke. This shop is one of the top suppliers of festival gear in Japan. And if you love intricately carved portable shrines inlaid with...


Tofugu’s Favorite Japanese Ghosts and Monsters

Read more: Yokai is Japan’s category for monsters, ghosts, demons, and pretty much any spooky or fantastic creature you can think of. And there are hundreds upon hundreds of fun yokai to learn about. With Halloween on the way, Michael and Kristen discuss their eight favorite Japanese ghouls; some terrifying, some creepy, and some just plain weird. Turn down the lights, light some candles, and settle in for some unsettling Japanese ghosts and monsters.


Our Favorite Japanese Learning Resources from Tofugu’s "What I Use to Study Japanese" Article Series

Since March, we’ve been publishing articles in a series called "What I Use to Study Japanese" (you can read them all here: In each article, a Japanese language learner tells us what they use to study and the methods they followed to get the language ability they have today. Over the past seven articles, we’ve seen patterns, techniques, and resources that helped us look at learning Japanese in new ways. In this episode, the Tofugu team shares their thoughts on the...


Improving Relationships in Japan Through Omiyage

Read the article: When living in or visiting Japan, there’s one simple thing you can do to make good relationships with Japanese people: omiyage. This art of gift-giving is steeped in tradition and has lots of rules to follow. Get it right and you’ll get off on the right foot with your host family and smooth over relations with co-workers. Get it wrong and… well, just don’t get it wrong. In this episode, Koichi and Michael talk about omiyage etiquette, where to buy,...


How to Memorize Japanese Words Faster with Keyword Mnemonics

Read the article: Memorizing Japanese vocabulary takes a lot of time and energy, and there's so much to memorize! This alone makes people give up before they even get started. But what if there was a way to alleviate this burden by making memories of Japanese words stick in your head almost instantly? You might not have to quit learning Japanese. In fact, you might just become fluent. In this episode, Koichi, Kristen, and Michael teach you how to use the keyword...


Why Are Japanese Classes Disappearing from Your School?

Get more from us at: Why are Japanese classes disappearing from your school? Demand for Japanese classes at universities isn't decreasing. In fact, more people want to learn Japanese than ever before! Then why are Japanese teachers losing their jobs? Recently, Koichi met with a group of professional Japanese teachers to discuss problems facing them. In this podcast, he talks with Kristen and Michael about what he learned. The group brainstorms solutions for Japanese...


What's the Difference Between On'Yomi and Kun'yomi Kanji?

Read the article: This is maybe the most frustrating aspect of studying kanji. You start learning 山 as やま. Cool, one kanji memorized. Wait... it can also be read as さん. Wait. All your other kanji have 2 or 4 extra readings too! Some are on'yomi. Some are kun'yomi. Why does this have to be so complicated?! It may seem confusing at first, but if you learn the difference between on'yomi/kun'yomi readings, where they came from, and how they work, we promise it will make...


What to Do with One Day in Tokyo

Oh no! The Tofugu Team has been kidnapped by Elon Musk and flown in his spaceship to Japan. He doesn't know how to have fun as a human, so he's forcing Koichi, Kanae, and Michael to show him what they would do with one day in Tokyo. If you're in Tokyo for a short visit, you can get some sweet travel tips from the team as they move from place to place, Elon Musk trailing slowly behind. Exciting destinations like: - A restaurant that serves shaved ice made with water from a World Heritage...


We Rented a Japanese Homeless Man

In Japan last year, we rented a homeless person. Now, before you get angry at us for doing something terrible, listen to the podcast. It's not as ominous as it sounds. We wrote about this experience, too. If you want to read Homeless Kotani's story, you can do it here: Be sure to subscribe to the Tofugu Podcast on iTunes or wherever podcasts go to die.


The Japanese Craft Beer Movement

If you've ever had beer in Japan, you probably know that there are only four of them: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Yebisu. But, there is a beer movement going on. Japanese craft beers are making a comeback in a big way. We talked to Beer Tengoku, a duo of professional Japanese craft beer drinkers (hey guys, the first step is admitting you have a problem), about the best and worst craft beers in Japan, and where to get them. Also, there was a blue beer. That was weird. Be sure to check out...


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