YouTube, possibly the greatest source of procrastination for all things learning, especially language learning. Sometimes, going through textbooks, Anki flashcards and writing that one kanji 100 times can get a bit tiresome. Which is why I strongly believe in putting YouTube to good use and using it as a tool to improve your language skills. Whether it’s watching Japanese Youtubers, or foreigners who’ve moved to Japan; both types of content will add something to your language and cultural learning experience.
So, without further ado, Iet’s start with my recommended YouTube channels:
J-Vlogger Channels – Foreigners living in Japan
Abroad in Japan: Chris Broad
Born in the UK, Chris moved to Japan almost eight years ago with zero Japanese. Now he is currently one of the most well-known and popular YouTube channels in Japan, Abroad in Japan. With a witty sarcastic sense of humour, Chris brings something unique to every video. He presents both the good and bad points of life in Japan. His videos are mainly mini documentary-style videos with greater emphasis on substance over the typical style of vlogging. He has videos ranging from his experiences on learning the language to making a mini-documentary on the Fukushima tsunami. He has also filmed a series called ‘Journey Across Japan’, which saw him bicycle 2000km from Sakata, Yamagata prefecture, all the way to Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture.
Dogen: Kevin O’ Donell
Active for the last four years, Kevin O’Donnell, best known as Dogen, is a Japanese based American YouTuber. Dogen is best known for his short comedic video skits which talk about Japanese language and culture. He has a swathe of lessons on the Japanese language and in particular, focuses on standard pronunciation teaching and phonetics. If you want to improve your Japanese pronunciation and have a laugh while doing it, he’s definitely my top recommendation. Dogen has also recently started a Patreon where subscribers can send videos to him to review their intonation and pronunciation. So, why not give it a try and have him assess your Japanese!
As one of the original Japanese vloggers, Sharla has been active on YouTube since 2011. She currently lives in Iwate Prefecture in the northern part of Japan. She has previously worked as a translator for Shin Godzilla (2017), and as a dialogue assistant coach. Overall, she has a breadth of experience of working and living in Japan. While she doesn’t focus as much on language learning, she provides great advice on living in Japan and is an excellent source for anyone looking to gain a greater insight into life in Japan.
日本語の森 Nihongo no Mori
Nihongo No Mori is a Japanese YouTube channel that focuses on language learning. Their main focus is on teaching material from the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. They have a range of videos to help you learn grammar, vocabulary and kanji from the N3 to N1 levels. All their videos are in Japanese, but at earlier levels, they have subtitles, speak slowly, and use lots of examples. While the sound quality can sometimes be a bit off, I highly recommend this as a language learning resource. I hope you get a lot out of it, as It’s certainly helped me in my own language journey and is a great source for learning certain grammar.
Fischer’s is a channel run by seven Japanese guys who take on weird and crazy challenges. While not exactly very educational, their videos are all in Japanese and usually feature a lot of subtitles. Their videos feature them eating crazy amounts of food, hunting for pirate’s treasure, and testing out water parks. They’re perfect if you want to take a break from study and get in some passive listening practice. If you’re at an intermediate to advanced level, I highly recommend them. It’s especially useful as a way to get into Japanese YouTube channels.
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