Looking for good Japanese podcasts/listening material
October 8, 2013 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning on taking the JLPT N1 this December, but unfortunately between work and sleep I haven't been able to squeeze much study time in. Since I have a 2-hour commute every day, and sometimes an hour or two of travel during work as well, I reckon I can put it to good use by listening to spoken Japanese on my iPod. Can you recommend some interesting podcasts or radio programmes (downloadable/accessible without internet) that have a good coverage of N1 vocabulary?

I was in Japan until this July, and have decent comprehension (~80% for daily conversation not involving specialist topics) but my vocab is pretty shitty so I stumble once there are a lot of (usually more formal) words I'm not familiar with - for example when trying to understand NHK news without subtitles. I think I need to listen to more news, documentaries, talk shows or similar stuff. (FWIW I'm not looking for language learning podcasts but actual stuff Japanese people might listen to.)

I'm also looking for places online where one can watch J-dramas with Japanese subtitles... and any recommendations you have for good dramas are very much appreciated!
posted by monocot to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you are sitting for N1, you should pretty much be comfortable with native language materials for a general audience. JLPT N1 assumes a vocabulary of 10,000 words, and assuming those are the 10,000 most common words, you should have about 95% coverage of materials for a general audience. I don't know what you like, so here is the Japanese iTunes podcast listing. Pick some that are about things you like. The problem is, of course, that you have no way of knowing how much you understand.

There are lots of dramas at D-Addicts, if you are comfortable with downloading such media, but I don't think many have Japanese subtitles. I think you will have a very hard time finding Japanese tv/movies with Japanese subtitles online. Your best bet would be to watch Japanese DVDs with the native subtitle track enabled. You will need a region-free or Region 2 DVD player to do this.

If you are able to read during your commute, what I really recommend doing is getting books that have also been published as audiobooks. That way, you can follow along in the book while you read and check how much you are actually picking up. (this is my preferred language study method). Here is a list of public domain Japanese books and their audio versions.

You should also invest in 新完全マスター聴解 日本語能力試験N1. This will be what's on the test and the questions will help you confirm how much you actually understand.

Source: N2 in 2000, now I focus on Japanese tests for native speakers such as the Kanji Kentei. I suppose I'll sit for N1 one day, but I have to travel out of state to take it and I found that not that many Japanese know about the JLPT. A lot of times they think it's the 日本語検定, a different test for native speakers. Best of luck!
posted by Tanizaki at 8:39 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use an app called J-Drama Master to download and watch J-dramas without any English subtitles on my iPad. Not all of the ones available have Japanese subtitles, but many of them do. Without knowing more about your tastes, it's hard to say what you might like, but Drama Wiki has information about many of the shows. The app is mostly in Chinese, which makes it a little hard to match the show to the information, but it's not too bad. I'm hardly an expert on dramas, but feel free to MeMail me or post more here about the kinds of things you like, and I can try to recommend something.
posted by shirobara at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2013

Best answer: Although you aren't necessarily looking for reading, NHK Web Easy uses furigana on top of its kanji words. It seems to work in Safari on iPhone and Chrome on my PC but NOT in firefox for some reason.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2013

Best answer: NHK Web Easy looks like good practice material.

I passed the N1 test in 1997 and the hardest section by far was the listening comprehension. More than dramas or documentaries, inane radio DJ chatter and newscasts will prepare you. The pace of conversations in dramas and narration in documentaries is a little slow compared to what was on the N1.
posted by vincele at 12:23 PM on October 8, 2013

Best answer: D-Addicts has a thread for Japanese subs. You download the raws and then the softsubs. It's a pretty nice way to practice. The softsubs can also be viewed with a text editor, which is great for saving words and phrases. If you get a show about the government or something you should have formal language aplenty.
posted by wintersweet at 5:10 PM on October 8, 2013

Best answer: A friend of mine has been working on his reading and vocabulary by watching movies that he loves (mostly western films) while reading the Japanese subtitles. His approach, which seems to be really working for him (he's got the old JLPT2, and is focusing more on the business Japanese tests). He says the key for him is that he's watching something he already knows and enjoys, so he's seeing how it's done in Japanese, and watches on the train with a dictionary handy.

Of course, the drawback is that he's limited to the writing style for jimaku, which has to be very information dense with as few words as possible in short periods of time, which isn't, I've heard, the most natural sort of Japanese.

Good luck on the test!
posted by Ghidorah at 7:53 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! Lots of great suggestions here - will be looking into all of them.
posted by monocot at 5:24 AM on October 17, 2013

« Older Is the United States Postal Service under attack?   |   How do I ensure this project is taxed properly? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.