As part of my daily commute I’ve been listening to various Japanese podcasts from NHK’s podcast series Suppin. I usually get into one of them, and listen to it exclusively for a few weeks until I’ve heard every episode.
With Gen’s modern Japanese corner, things started out badly because after listening to an episode or two I felt totally clueless about what was going on. The Japanese was totally cryptic, and I felt frustrated enough to give it a break for a few days.
When I came back to it, I found a few episodes whose content I understood enough to enjoy and even learn something, so I decided of making it my current main podcast to listen to. Since then my understanding is still hit or miss, but I feel it’s gradually improving over time.
Gen’s modern Japanese corner focuses on the Japanese language itself from a perspective of linguistics, history, literature, and culture. I’ve heard topics on free-form haikus, famous love letters, famous sayings (kotowaza), and even word puzzles.
Because this podcast is so deep in culture and history, the Japanese level is pretty high – it’s one most difficult I’ve experienced in my recent listenings. But for every little bit you understand you get the satisfaction of deeper cultural appreciation for Japan and Japanese language. Since many of the episodes read quotes from books, if you want to learn more you can always purchase the book on somewhere like Amazon Japan and delve even deeper.
If you have advanced to expert proficiency in Japanese (at least several years of study) and an interest to learn more about Japan’s culture and language, this is a great podcast to try out.
Linguistic note: 国語 (kokugo) literally refers to the mother tongue of a certain country, but in typical use it means Japanese studied academically as a language. In America, we call English class simply English, but Japanese class (in high school, for example) in Japan would be called 国語.