In a previous post I’ve talked about the NHK Japanese podcasts, which are freely available online for a variety of programs. I’ve jumped around listening to a few of these, but lately have really gotten into one called “Oogiri corner” (大喜利コーナー）that is billed as “The earliest in Japan” (日本一早い) and is part of the “Suppin” series.
Each episode has a topic (お題) which was announced at the end of the previous episode. It is is phrased as a question, for example “It seems like your next door neighbor just won the lottery. What made you think that?”. The two hosts of the show read all the responses to this topic which were received from listeners via Fax, Twitter, or postcards. These answers are usually funny, but sometimes deeply meaningful, or even touching.
To a Japanese learner, this podcast is a real gem for several reasons. First of all, there is a consistent pattern that is repeated over and over again – reading the “theme” followed by one of the listener’s responses. If you miss the theme the first time, odds are by the 5th or 6th time you’ll probably have picked up most of it, and be able to guess it’s meaning from the context of all the responses you’ve heard.
Second, the commentary of the two hosts after they read each response is generally natural and unscripted, and makes for good listening practice. Many of the phrases they use seem like things you could pick up and use in your own daily interactions. If you are used to listening to scripted dialogue this may be challenging at first, but it’s definitely worth your time. Also, unlike some other programs, the female lead here says more than basic Aizuchi (“Yes!”, “That’s right!”, etc.) and contributes much to the discussion.
Finally, if you listen long enough you’ll start picking up cultural aspects scattered here and there. Though many of the responses are not based on real events, they are funny or meaningful because they somehow connect to real life in a deep way. My most memorable of these was in response to the above question (“What made you think your neighbor won the lottery?”). It was “夢を語らなくなった”, which roughly translates “They stopped talking about their dreams”.
One final linguistic point – the male host (Kawashima) speaks in a Kansai (Osaka) dialect for part of the show. What is interesting is how he turns it off and speaks roughly Tokyo-dialect when talking serious or in ‘announcer’ mode, and how he turns it on when being more conversational or joking around. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I feel that exposure to multiple dialects at an early stage in learning can be confusing, but a little bit won’t hurt much. If you’ve been studying for awhile it’s fun to try and pick up pieces of the dialect when he switches it on. Don’t forget that Osaka dialect is more than just different words (like ちゃう), it is also a whole different set of intonations which are often completely opposite to those of Tokyo-dialect.
You can check the program’s site out here, which contains a link to the iTunes registration: