Top 5 YouTube Channels for Japanese Learners
5. Kemushi Chan
Kemushi is an American national who moved to Japan for her Master's degree. Her channel covers her journey, discussing her experiences learning Japanese, how she interacts with the culture and advice for anyone who wants to do the same. The style of presentation is very relaxed and personal, with Kemushi offering you her own views on a lot of the topics. Learning content is also based strongly on personal experience which provides a refreshing take on the Japanese language and feels as though you're discussing with a friend rather than a teacher.
Kemushi's language lessons are useful for anyone who wishes to travel around Japan and covers all sorts of nuanced elements of the learning process. For example, there are videos on how to learn Japanese in the countryside, how to voice anime, what it's like speaking only Japanese for 24 hours and much, much more.
While the lessons are suitable for all levels, many of the videos will appeal most strongly to intermediate and advanced learners or those who wish to take the JLPT exam. For those who are interested in the JLPT or simply wish to know what it is you can check out our information page here.
4. Reina Skully
Reina is a true Japanese enthusiast in every sense of the word. Living in Tokyo, Reina shares her insights into learning the language, adapting to the Japanese lifestyle and experiencing Japan in the most authentic way possible. Her cultural videos address interesting topics such as perceptions of foreigners in Japan and the best Japanese snacks to eat in a rush. In addition to content on Japanese society in general, Reina also shares videos of her Pikachu collection, custom Japanese dresses and Japanese music, making her channel ideal for anyone interested in contemporary Japanese pop culture.
Her language videos take the authentic feel a step further and tackle issues such as Japanese internet slang and sounding more Japanese in day-to-day conversation. These topics are clearly created for and developed by someone who has to learn to use Japanese in a variety of real-world situations and therefore has a very practical feel compared with some of the more textbook style learning offered on other YouTube channels. In short, this is a great channel to follow for someone looking to make their Japanese more informal and keep up to date with modern Japanese culture.
3. Abroad in Japan
Abroad in Japan was created by Chris, a British national who has lived in Japan for several years. In this time Chris has amassed a huge following due to the quality and content of his videos, covering all number of issues from being a foreigner in Japan to the way Japan has handled the Coronavirus pandemic.
Titles such as "Journey to Mount Fuji" and "Travelling on Japan's most expensive bullet train" give a great overview of what it's like to travel across Japan complete with advice and useful phrases to learn along the way. Chris also takes his videos into more depth to give viewers a detailed view of Japanese life: "What can 1,000 Yen buy you in a Japanese convenience store?" and "What is driving in Japan really like?" are great examples of this, drawing the audience into his world and immersing them in the culture he clearly loves so much.
The strength of this channel comes from its in-depth look at Japan combined with Chris' humorous and insightful presentation of the information. While there is some content related to language learning and the JLPT exam in particular, this is not primarily a Japanese language channel but rather a culture hub, helping people to experience Japan without actually going there themselves.
2. That Japanese Man Yuta
Many of the channels on this list were developed by foreign learners of Japanese or people of non-Japanese origin who live there and want to share their experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 'That Japanese Man Yuta' was developed by a Japanese national who wants to help foreigners understand his language and culture. In addition to being a beautiful testament to the kind and helpful nature of the Japanese people, this makes for a very interesting take on a number of issues, both cultural and linguistic.
Much of Yuta's content is interview based, with him taking to the streets of different Japanese cities and asking the locals questions about their culture and beliefs. Some deep issues are discussed here such as "Are Japanese parents OK with international marriage" and "What Japanese find weird about the United States", however there is also more light hearted content around music, film and gaming.
When it comes to language, one of the most interesting things Yuta does is use popular anime characters to explain how Japanese works and how to use it in real life. There are even deep dives into individual characters in different anime shows so you can actually learn to speak more like your favourite heroes! This not only makes language learning incredibly fun and addictive, it also combines language and culture in a way we haven't seen on many other channels. A definite watch for Japanese learners of all levels.
1. Japanese Pod 101
Japanese Pod is the largest, and in our opinion the best, Japanese language channel on YouTube. It is essentially a massive list of video resources focusing specifically on different elements of linguistic competence. Whether you want to learn Hiragana, Kanji or pronunciation, Japanese Pod will have useful and relevant content for you to consume.
If the other channels on this list have been geared toward Japanese culture and how language can relate to it, this channel can be considered a much more classroom style, language based channel. While drills, grammar and comprehension practise are all common here, that doesn't mean the channel is boring or dull in any way. In fact, the content is presented in small, bitesize chunks and is often fun to watch and interact with.
Due to the sheer number of videos, there is not one single teacher, but a team of different ones covering a huge array of topics. All the teachers are professionals who communicate the information well and if you search for a specific area of weakness in your language learning, the chances are you will find some content related to it. To put it simply, this is the best YouTube channel for learning Japanese.
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