Fun Friday

Fun Friday 15: Interview with Niko from NativShark

In this episode, I interview Niko from NativShark, a comprehensive Japanese language learning app.

In this episode we talked about Niko’s journey to becoming fluent in Japanese, why a lot of Japanese study materials suck and the art of making flash cards and other topics.

If you are interested in trying out the NativShark app for yourself check out this link for a free 2 week trial.

NativShark Free Trial

For more podcasts on Japan and learning Japanese go to: Learn Japanese Pod


Fun Friday

Fun Friday 13: Coronavirus in Japan

This is the Fun Friday edition of Learn Japanese Pod. This is where we speak to cool people doing cool things in Japan. In this episode I talk to Japan veteran Andy about life in Japan during the Coronavirus.

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Fun Friday

Fun Friday 12: Interview with Miku Sensei

In this Fun Friday episode of Learn Japanese Pod, I interview Miku Sensei of Miku Real Japanese. Miku Sensei is a prolific creator of fun, educational Japanese language learning videos on Youtube and Instagram.

She is an international traveler and linguist who speaks fluent English and Spanish. Through her travels she has discovered her own effective techniques for teaching and learning languages.

In the podcast we talk about her journey to become a Japanese teacher and her advice on how to become more fluent in Japanese.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 11: Ask us anything

In this podcast, Ami and Alex answer all your Japanese study related questions. If you would like to get your question answered on the podcast go to and fill in the form. It’s super quick and easy! Once you submit your question, we will try to answer it in the following “Ask us anything” podcast.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 10: Japan Travel Tips

In this podcast Matthew and I talked about our favorite Japan travel tips, hacks and experiences. We discussed various topics including interesting places to visit, taking ferries in Japan, how to save money and the recent issues with AirBnb.

Also, if you enjoyed this podcast, please consider making a donation to Matthew’s go Fun Me campaign to help with the costs of the current cancer treatment he is undergoing now. Any donation no matter how small is much appreciated.

Please feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas below.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 09: Why do Japanese People Wear Masks?

In the latest Fun Friday podcast Tomo Akiyama is back by popular demand. We mostly talked about various aspects of Japanese culture including the question “Why do Japanese people wear masks?”. This discussion came up through the questions people most commonly ask about Japan on Google. Therefore we took a stab at answering this popular query.

We also talked about how Katakana is used in Japanese and the rules for writing foreign words in this script. We also answered listener questions including how to improver your Japanese listening skills.

The guest on this week’s show is Tomo Akiyama, a corporate communications specialist and linguist. He is a gourmet, advocate of Japan and expert in destroying cultural stereotypes and myths. He’s an absolutely fascinating individual full of mind-blowing facts about the Japanese language and the culture of Japan.

You can follow him on Twitter here @tomoakiyama

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 08: Japanese TV Shows

In this episode, Ami and I talk about our favorite Japanese TV shows. Watching Japanese TV shows regardless of you Japanese level is great way to improve your understanding of Japanese culture. It also gives you a common frame of reference to have more interesting conversations with Japanese people. Although Japanese TV is not so accessible outside of Japan, you can usually find extended clips on Youtube. You can also find some Japanese TV shows that have English subtitles.

Here is a list of some of the shows we talked about in the podcast:

Japanese TV Shows

1. 水戸黄門 Mito Kōmon

This is a samurai drama set in the Edo period featuring the hero Tokugawa Mitsukuni who roams Japan fighting injustice.

2. 空耳アワーSora Mimi Awa

Sora mimi awa is part of the Tamori Club TV show where listeners submit foreign songs that have sections that sound Japanese.

3. Smap x Smap

Smap X Smap is the long running variety show featuring the boy band Smap. One of the most popular sections of the show was Smap Bistro where the members would compete to cook the most delicious dishes for famous visiting celebrities.

4. ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで Dauntaun no gaki no tsukai ya arahende

“Dauntaun no gaki no tsukai ya arahende” A.K.A “Gaki Tsuka” is hosted by one of Japan’s most famous comedy duo “Downtown” who are  Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada.

5. 紅白歌合戦 Kōhaku Uta Gassen

This is the famous singing contest held by NHK as Japan celebrates the new year. This show is perhaps one of the most watched programs on Japanese TV and features famous singers from across Japan.

6. ナイトスクープ Naito Sukuupu (Knight Scoop)

Knight Scoop is a famous TV show from Kansai (Osaka) which features requests from viewers who need help with various random problems. The show is hosted by comedians and actors who visit viewers and try to help them out with their request. Invariably, hilarity ensues.

7. 関ジャニ-クロニクル Kanjani Kuronikuru

This variety show features the boy band Kanjani and their funny exploits. One section is the Dengon game know as Chinese whispers in English. Native English speakers whisper phrases to the band who usually mess us the message leading to some pretty funny results.

8. アメトーク Ame Tōku

Ame Talk is a weekly show that invites comedians to talk on various subjects.


Fun Friday

Fun Friday 07: Interview with Niko of Nihongo Shark #2

I hung out with Niko, the creator of Nihongo Shark for my latest Fun Friday podcast. We talked about how he started Nihongo Shark which is a website crammed full of resources for students of Japanese which is well worth a look if you have’t seen it.

We also talked about how to overcome feeling overwhelmed when learning Japanese, translation and the horrors of English education in Japan.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 06: Interview with Tomo Akiyama

In this Fun Friday edition of the Learn Japanese Pod podcast, I interviewed Tomo Akiyama who is a fascinating expert linguist and well known Twitter user from Japan. We discussed a wide range of topics including the difficulties of learning Japanese and common mistakes non-native speakers make. We also talked about common English phrases Japanese people use, the words they say and they real meaning behind them.

As Tomo said, the biggest take away from this discussion is Japanese and English do not exactly translate into one another as they as such different languages.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 05: The Best and Worst of Life in Tokyo

In this podcast, I talk to Andy, a great friend of mine whom I have known for over 10 years here in Japan. As we are both long term residents of Tokyo, we wanted to record a podcast outlining the best and the worst of life here in the capital city of Japan. We decided to look at the good, the bad and the ugly to give an honest and balanced discussion of what it is really like to live here. If you are thinking about moving to Tokyo to live or just want to come for a brief visit, we hope there is some useful information for you here. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 04: Our Favorite Japanese Bands

Learn Japanese Pod Fun Friday: Our Favourite Japanese Bands

In our latest Fun Friday Podcast, Ami and I talked about our favourite Japanese bands and other recent news that has been happening in our lives

Welcome to Learn Japanese Pod and the Fun Friday episode where we temporarily put down our Japanese textbooks and talk about Japanese culture and anything else to do with Japan that floats into our heads. In this episode, Ami sensei and I talked about our favorite Japanese bands. I kinda showed my age with some of my selection with some old classic Japanese bands most older people know. But Ami Sensei also likes some of those old classics too so we have a lot of music in common that we like.

So here is a break down of some of the music we talked about.

1. Utada Hikaru – Fantome

If you don’t know who Utada Hikaru is, you must have been living in a cave. She is a diva megastar of Japanese pop and has a long career spanning all the way back to the late 90s. Her latest album is Fantome and features quite an eclectic range of styles on the album. It’s definitely worth a listen and for me Utada is one of those go-to classic J-Pop stars you should have in your Japanese music collection.

2. Kick The Can Crew – Super original

I hadn’t heard of Kick the Can Crew until Ami introduced them to me on the podcast. And on the first listen I really liked them. Japanese are masters of importing foreign culture and recreating it with their own unique interpretation. And rap is no exception. Japanese rap has come into its own and is considered to be a unique and innovative genre. If you like Kick the Can Crew and want to check out more great Japanese rap bands then you won’t go wrong with Rip Slyme and Dragon Ash.

3. Super Fly – Ai O Komete Hanataba O

Super Fly is often called the Janis Joplin of J-Pop. She sings a mix of J-pop and rock and has a wide range and present vocal stle which is a refreshing break from your typical female Japanese singer. She has some pretty solid albums and songs out there and one of my favorites is 愛をこめて花束を Ai o komete hanataba – a song that really showcases some great song writing and powerful singing. That’ll definitely get your toes tapping.

4. Wednesday Campanella – Diablo

Wednesday Campanella is a Japanese pop group headed by the super talented KOM_I, a singer and rapper with an hilarious sense of humour and a very original and creative style. In terms of genre it mixes rap, hop hop, electronic music and J-pop. Their videos are also pretty funny and worth a listen.

5. Okuda Tamio – Marshmallow

Okuda Tamio is a singer song writer, guitarist and producer. He was formerly in a band called Unicorn which was pretty famous in Japan. He later quit to follow his own career. If you ask most Japanese people they will have heard of him and is also known for producing the hit band Puffy. The reason I like him is simple. In a word: guitar. As a nerdy guitarist I love the way he produces rock and gets an incredibly fat guitar sounds. Worth a listen!

6. Dry and Heavy – New Creation

Back in the 90s, reggae hit Japan in a big way and the Japanese reggae scene was born. Today you have some really big reggae music events in Japan including the Reggae Sun Splash festival. One really solid Japanese reggae band I love is “Dry and heavy” which has an incredibly well produced and tight sound. One thing I have found is their albums age really well so they are always a good go to band of summer parties and something to listen to on the beach.

7. Urufuruzu – Osaka Strut

ウルフルズ Urufuruzu are a rock band from Osaka and “Osaka Strut” is one of their big hits. The band is headed by the charismatic Tortoise Matsumoto who has also tried his hand at acting. They enjoyed their biggest initial success with the song “Guts Da Ze”, a song you should attempt only when you have achieved your black belt in Karaoke.

8. Southern All stars

Southern All Stars are perhaps one of the most, if not, the most famous band in Japan. They have a long career stretching back to the late 70s and are still active now performing live and having their music featured in adverts and on TV. They have over 15 number one hits and, in short, are a legendary band. Go check them out, there’s a lot of music to choose from!

9. Begin

Begin are one of my favorite bands for their great song writing and singing. Their music is influenced by the culture and history of Okinawa. You can hear the traditional San Shin in a lot of their music. It’s a 3 stringed guitar unique to Okinawa. Their most well known songs are “San shin no hana” and “Shimanchu nu takara”.

10. Mr Children

Mr. Children (ミスターチルドレン Misutā Chirudoren)is rock group from Japan who are another mega group with a career going back to the early 90s. Known more commonly as “Misu-Chiru” (ミスチル), they are a band just about everyone has heard of in Japan. They have a large discography and an impressive share of number one hits. All I can say is, do a google search and see where that takes you as they have a fair bit of music out there.



Fun Friday

Fun Friday 03: Interview with Niko of Nihongo Shark

In this week’s Fun Friday Podcast I talked with my good friend Niko who is the creator of Nihongo Shark, a website for learning Japanese.

Niko is a Jedi master of online language self-study techniques which he developed while trying to teach himself Japanese. If you were ever frustrated with your Japanese studies, Niko understands, as he used to struggle too. And that’s what makes him such a great teacher and Nihongoshark such a great Japanese language learning resource. His philosophy is about teaching people how to teach themselves Japanese more effectively and quickly. This is opposed to wanting to curl up in a ball and cry every time you see a Japanese textbook.

Niko is a prolific creator of great online Japanese lessons and some pretty hilarious blog posts.  His website has a wide variety Japanese lessons, advice on language learning, a newsletter and language courses for motivated Japanese students.

In the podcast I talked to Niko about his recent travels in Thailand, his experience and advice about language learning and of course how to suck less at speaking Japanese.

For more Japanese language learning podcasts visit

Fun Friday

Fun Friday 02: Drinking Etiquette in Japan

In this podcast, Yoshiko and I (Alex) talk about etiquette for eating out and drinking with friends at an Izakaya, Hanami party or similar events. If you listen to this podcast you will learn some insider cultural knowledge which will help you to give you your black belt in partying with your Japanese friends.

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Fun Friday

Fun Friday 01: Sayonara 2016

2016 in Japan in Review

Fun Friday is back, Hoorah! And if you don’t know what Fun Friday is, it is a podcast where we temporarily put down our textbooks and talk about life, the universe and everything related to life in Japan. In this episode, Yoshiko joined me to review 2016. We talked about our experiences and the major news events of the last year in Japan. I added links to the topics we covered in the podcast. Enjoy!

Topics and links mentioned in the podcast

Time / Topic

02:00 Myojinkan Hot Spring

03:08 Nokogiriyama

04:01 Coffee House – Cafe Edomonzu

05:20 Warayakiya Japanese restaurant

06:43 Learn Japanese Pod Dojo – New online Japanese Course area

07:13 Learn Japanese Pod 5 Day Japanese Challenge

09:13 Why do you want to study Japanese Survey results

21:14 2016 Japanese Buzzwords