100 Random Sources of Japanese Input

Stroke order for the character 百

To celebrate my 100th post here, I’ve decided to share the 100 things I’ve enjoyed in/about the Japanese language. These are manga, songs, games, books, learning resources, websites, videos, and podcasts. Those of you who check the blog regularly will recognize a few of these. Here’s to hoping you get something new out of it!

I’ve also written a sentence or two about why I like the resource or its significance to my studies.

*A lot of them cost money, but I think they’re worth the purchase. I’ll probably write up a free version of this in the future.

Books

  • オンリー・ミー 私だけを by 三谷幸喜
    • Made me laugh out loud on a crowded, quiet train in Kyoto. Yes, it was embarrassing.
  • レベル7 by 宮部みゆき
    • My favorite Japanese novel so far. I wrote a little about it here.
  • 時をかける少女 by 筒井康隆
    • The first book I read in Japanese. It’s only a little over 100 pages, so it might be good for beginners. 懐かしい
  • 火車 by 宮部みゆき
    • So far, so good. I have a strong feeling this will be a great one, so I put it here pre-emptively.
  • 英語ができない私をせめないで! by 小栗左多里
    • The hilarious story of a Japanese woman who learns English. Any language learner can probably relate to this one.
  • 謎解きはディナーのあとで by 東川篤哉
    • A comedic mystery series about an heiress to a large company, her incompetent boss, and her genius butler.

Mostly English Books

  • Japanese Words & Their Uses II
    • For some reason, I actually had this book before I started learning Japanese. It does a good job of explaining nuances and avoiding awkward and unnatural Japanese. I recommend this to beginners. Part one might be useful too.
  • Colloquial Kansai Japanese
    • This  book was a birthday gift from my host family, so it means a lot to me. It’s actually a pretty nice book. It has dialogues and example sentences in both romaji and kana/kanji, so anyone can use it.

Manga

  • Dragonball
    • I don’t have to explain this one, now do I? A classic manga.
  • 宇宙兄弟
    • This is one of my top two manga. Brothers who become astronauts.
  • 聖☆おにいさん
    • Jesus and Buddha vacationing in Japan. Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. That is, if you’re not offended by that kind of stuff.
  • Bakuman
    • Two friends strive to become mangaka and get their work published in Jump. I’m only a few volumes in, but I’m liking it a lot.
  • AKIRA
    • The other of my top two manga. So far, it’s the only manga I’ve re-read. It feels like reading a movie.
  • Liar Game
    • Fortunately, very different from the show.

Websites

  • Wicgame
    • You can playしりとり, 人狼, and other social games on this site. With actual people!
  • シネマトゥデイ インタビュー一覧
    • Interviews with actors in Japanese.
  • 古典落語ネタ帳
    •  A collection of rakugo stories.
  • 藤原家の毎日家ご飯
    • Food blog. This was one of the first Japanese blogs I started reading regularly.
  • rie-zoメモ帳
    • A tumblr page that collects quotes and excerpts from the web. They could be funny, inspirational, or just interesting.
  • Spice of Life 京の街角
    • A beautiful photo-blog. It makes me miss Kyoto even more.
  • 千文字小説
    • User submitted short stories. Also good for reading on the go. You know, if you don’t have a physical book.
  • Yahoo!知恵袋
    • A huge Q&A site. I sometimes go here before I go to Google.
  • 日本昔ばなし
    • Plenty of Japanese folktales in both Japanese and English. Good for students of any level.
  • 読書メーター
    • You can keep track of all the Japanese books and comics you read, read reviews,  and meet people with similar tastes in books. Here’s a link to my page, if you’re interested.

Youtube Channels

  • 赤髪ちゃんネル
    • A 実況プレイ channel. His videos are well edited and funny. His Minecraft videos actually make Minecraft interesting.
  • Anime Bancho
    • The official (?) home of Peeping Life, my favorite video series. You can also use English subtitles for most, if not all, of the videos.
  • ニュースの深層
    • Talks and debates about Japanese government and society.

Anime

  • Paranoia Agent
    • I watch this series at least 4 times a year.
  • The 12 Kingdoms
    • A fun series with an amazing ending theme song. I really want to find the original books.
  • Samurai Champloo
    • Funky cool stuff. I discovered both Nujabes and MINMI through this show.
  • Excel Saga
    • My favorite anime parody.
  • あべの橋魔法商店街
    • My second favorite anime parody.

Movies

  • Tampopo
    • A movie about food. Learn how to eat ramen correctly.
  • Drive
    • A strange movie about a guy who is forced to become the getaway driver for some bank robbers.
  • 八日目の蝉
    • A great movie about what it means to be family. Now looking for the book. Got it!
  • Survive Style 5+
    • Abe Hiroshi pelvic thrusting. You’re welcome. Also, Vinnie Jones is in it.
  • The Magic Hour
    • As expected from 三谷幸喜, a great comedy about mistaken identity.

Games

  • Star Ocean series (SNES / PS2 / PS3) 
    • My favorite RPG series. I’m a sucker for sci-fi and space travel.
  • Monster Hunter Series (PSP/3DS)
    • My roommate in high school introduced me to the series and I haven’t looked back since. A great game that’s even greater when played with others.
  • Danganronpa series  (PSP)
    • The best games I’ve ever played.
  • Steins; Gate (PSP)
    • A sci-fi visual novel revolving around time travel. Gets really good in the second half.
  • Divina (PC)
    • A Japanese MMORPG with no IP block! A great way to practice typing Japanese quickly if you play with others and do boss runs.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 3 (PSP)
    • In my opinion,  the best of the series.
  • Wonderland Online (PC)
    • A unique MMO where you can build your own transportation, weapons, and other items to help you complete quests, travel, and survive.
  • Dissidia 012 (Duodecim) Final Fantasy(PSP)
    • A fighting game with all Final Fantasy characters.

iPhone Apps

  • ドラゴンリーグX
    • A tournament style game that you can’t solo. A good way to practice Japanese without pressure. (in other words teammates will just assume you’re Japanese unless you say otherwise.)
  • 浮遊大陸バトリクス
    • A fun game where you unlock parts of the world map by defeating monsters.
  • Numer0n
    • The show was made into a mobile game. A variation on the game Mastermind.
  • 愛本堂花札
    • I am hooked on 花札. A classic Japanese card game on the go. This app costs money but there are plenty of free alternatives in the app store.
  • 漢字力診断
    • A kanji study tool disguised as a fun quiz game. It tests reading and writing.
  • TuneIn Radio
    • Streaming japanese radio and podcasts. I’m thinking of upgrading to pro soon.
  • 漢字読めるカナ?
    • This app tests you on thousands of kanji separated by difficulty. You can conveniently look up words while in the app.
  • 大辞林
    • One of my dictionaries. It costs quite a bit, but it’s worth it.
  • 漢字でQ
    • Another kanji study tool. You can test yourself on reading or writing  kanji for animals, 3 and 4 character compounds, words with difficult readings, and many other topics.

Websites for Studying

  • NHK News Online
    • Sometimes I feel like reading the news.  (when it’s not depressing)
  • NHK高校講座
    • Be a Japanese high school student without all of the awkward.[1]
  • Lang-8
    • Practice writing in your target language and correct posts written by others in your native language.
  • Tae Kim’s Japanese Grammar Guide
    • One of the best guides out there. This alone can take someone from beginner to decent.
  • IMABI
    • Another very nice site for learning from scratch. This site delves into advanced material and classical Japanese.
  • Cultural Interviews with Japanese-Speaking Professionals
    • Eye-opening cultural insights with transcripts to go along with the videos. Really interesting.
  • 言っとくけど
    • A tumblr which introduces vocabulary via manga.
  • がんばれ凡人!
    • This site has lots of resources to improve your Japanese, knowledge of Japanese history, and classical Japanese. There’s a lot of stuff, so check it out.

Twitter Feeds

  • ぶ先生
    • One of my Japanese learning role models. He often tweets about vocabulary and useful phrases.
  • Tae Kim
    • Tae Kim also tweets vocabulary with the #JWOTD tag.
  • Cool Nihongo
    • Another account that shares interesting vocabulary.
  • 読めないと恥ずかしい漢字なう
    • This one is like the previous three but it’s all in Japanese. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but there’s plenty of good stuff in the archives.

TV Dramas

  • Trick
    • My favorite drama. Magician and physicist debunk fake supernaturals.
  • 結婚できない男
    • The only rom-com that doesn’t make me want to punch everything.
  • Legal High
    • My second favorite drama. I can’t wait for the new season.
  • SPEC
    • Superpowers and worldwide conspiracies. I really want the ending to be good.
  • 熱海の捜査官
    • It’s the vibe of Trick with the WTF of Paranoia Agent.
  • Tiger & Dragon

Music

  • Rip Slyme
    • One of the most well-known hip-hop groups in Japan.
    • Some songs: 楽園ベイベー, Speed King
  • HALCALI
    • They used to be a Rip Slyme-esque rap duo, but I don’t know what the heck they’re doing now. I like their old stuff.
    • Some songs: ハルカリズム ‘CANDY HEARTS’, ギリギリサーフライダー
  • MINMI
    • Reggae, Soca, and J-pop
    • Some songs: 星のラブレター, 四季ノ唄
  • Unicorn
    • Classic rock group.
    • Some songs: すばらしい日々, Feel So Moon
  • school food punishment
    • They do rock and electronica stuff.
    • Some songs: 浮かべ上がる, 煙に白
  • Rhymester
    • A rap trio.
    • Some songs: Once Again, 知らない女, 口から出まかせ
  • The Blue Hearts
    • Another classic rock group.
    • Some songs: TRAIN-TRAIN, 終わらない歌, 僕の右手
  • Moumoon
    • A versatile duo. They make lots of soothing, mellow songs.
    • Some songs: 歌を歌おう, どこへも行かないよ
  • 少女スキップ
    • Would this be light rock? I don’t know my music genres.
    • Some songs: Glory of the Snow, umbrella
  •  庄野真代
    • I love 70s music.
    • Some songs: 中央フリーウェイ, マスカレード
  • 梶芽衣子
    • Enka love. You might recognize her music if you’ve seen Kill Bill.
    • Some songs: 宿借り, 恨み節, 私生まれて不幸せ
  • Nujabes.
    • A hip-hop/jazz legend who passed way too soon. He did quite a few amazing things in the hip-hop and jazz communities. Some of his full albums are on Youtube.
    • Just listen to his albums on Youtube. Any fan of hip-hop will love them.

Podcasts

  • 虚構新聞ニュース
    • As the title suggests, it’s a news podcast parody.  Like The Onion.
  • イヤー、マイッタマイッタ
    • Funny podcast where the hosts help listeners with their problems.
  • ひいきびいき
    • Two hosts talk about a pre-determined topic. Natural, conversational Japanese. Good voices, too.
  • Sound Library 〜世界にひとつだけの本〜
    • For that nice “being told a bedtime story” feeling.
  • モンハンラジオ
    • Being a モンハン fanatic, this became one of my favorite sources of input, once I got used to 日笠陽子’s voice.
  • 週刊日経トレンディ
    • Weekly technology podcast. Easy to listen to.
  • JUNK バナナマンのバナナムーンGOLD
    • HILARIOUS
  • 杏のanytime andante podcast
    • Talks about random topics. Each episode is about 10 minutes. It’s not updated frequently, but it’s a relaxing podcast.

Variety/Other TV Shows

  • 有吉とマツコの怒り新党
    • Two of the angriest people on variety TV agree or disagree with statements angry users send in.
  • 歴史秘話ヒストリア
    • Cool show about events in Japanese history.
  • くりぃむクイズミラクル9
    • A quiz show that tests general knowledge of contemporary Japan.
  • カンブリア宮殿
    • 小池栄子 and 村上龍 talk to industry leaders and other important people.
  • Qさま
    • A quiz show with questions about 漢字, 敬語, history, and current events. Makes the brain smart.
  • ガキの使いやあらへんで!
    • Check out the older episodes. Makes the stomach hurt.
  • ソモサン・セッパ
    • A game show with riddles and brain teasers of varying difficulties. Makes the brain hurt.

 

おまけ

  • People are also a nice source of input. I highly recommend involving others as much as possible with the appropriate resources listed above.

What are some of your favorite sources of Japanese input?

Author: Koyami

I'm Koyami. I am a freelance Japanese-English Translator and I enjoy learning new skills and reading in my spare time. Current pursuits include learning Mandarin Chinese, getting familiar with Blender, and collecting all of the 十二国記 books. Follow me on Twitter and Google+ for blog updates, my Japanese word of the day, and more!

  • Japanese Level Up

    Great list! And congrats on your 100th post.

    And as for 有吉とマツコの怒り新党, while they are always angry, they are still really fun to watch. Both of them seem to dominate TV these days.

    • Thanks for the comment!
      I agree, they are both really fun to watch. I wonder how much they make? They’re all over TV.